Camp Pendleton Marines involved in Australia aircraft crash

Camp Pendleton Marines involved in Australia aircraft crash

Camp Pendleton Marines were among those involved in the MV-22B Osprey aircraft crash in Australia on Sunday that killed three and left 20 others injured, according to military officials.

The fiery crash occurred around 9:30 a.m. on Melville Island, which is located just north of the mainland city of Darwin, during a routine training exercise. A total of 23 military personnel were on board, officials with the Marine Rotational Force – Darwin said in a statement Sunday.

In a follow-up statement released Monday, U.S. Marine officials said that all of the troops involved in the crash were from squadrons based out of Camp Pendleton and Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

Military officials also identified the three killed in the crash as Corporal Spencer R. Collart, Captain Eleanor LeBeau and Major Tobin Lewis — all of whom were from the Hawaii squadron.

This combination of photos provided by U.S. Marines Corps., shows Marine V-22B Osprey pilot Capt. Eleanor V. Beau, center, Cpl. Spencer R. Collart, left, and Maj. Tobin J. Lewis, right. The U.S. Marine Corps has released the names of the three Marines killed in a fiery tiltrotor aircraft crash on a north Australian island this week and said one off their colleagues remained in hospital in a critical condition.(U.S. Marines Corps via AP)
This combination of photos provided by U.S. Marines Corps., shows Marine V-22B Osprey pilot Capt. Eleanor V. Beau, center, Cpl. Spencer R. Collart, left, and Maj. Tobin J. Lewis, right. The U.S. Marine Corps has released the names of the three Marines killed in a fiery tiltrotor aircraft crash on a north Australian island this week and said one off their colleagues remained in hospital in a critical condition. (U.S. Marines Corps via AP)

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of three respected and beloved members of the MRF-D family,” Col. Brendan Sullivan, commanding officer of MRF-D, said in the statement. “Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families and with all involved.”

20 Marines on-board reported injures and were transported to Royal Darwin Hospital, according to military officials. Of those injured, 17 have since been released and three remain hospitalized — one in critical condition and two in stable condition.

It is unclear from where those injured marines were based. The extent of their injuries is also not known at this time.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation, the U.S. Marines said.

Around 150 Marines are currently based in Darwin, with up to 2,500 rotating through the city every year. According to military officials, the deployment of U.S. troops to the city is part of a wider alignment of forces that is broadly meant to face an increasingly assertive China.

The U.S. troops involved in Sunday’s Osprey crash were flying in support of Exercise Predator’s Run, a 12-day exercise that also involves militaries from Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines and East Timor.

The Osprey is a hybrid aircraft that takes off and lands like a helicopter, but can rotate its propellers forward during flight and cruise much more like an airplane. Versions of the aircraft are used by the Navy and Air Force in addition to the Marines.

Before Sunday, there had been a total of five fatal crashes of Marine Ospreys since 2012, causing a total of 16 deaths.

The latest was a fiery crash in Imperial County in June 2022 that left five Marines dead. A report from the subsequent investigation, which was released last month, found that it was caused by a mechanical failure related to a clutch.

There had been 16 similar clutch problems with the Marine Ospreys in flight since 2012, the report found. But no problems had arisen since February when the Marine Corps began replacing a piece of equipment on the aircraft, the report added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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