At least seven American sailors were injured following a “landing mishap” involving a combat aircraft on the deck of a nuclear-powered US carrier, which was sailing in the South China Sea, the US Navy has said.
In a statement issued late on Monday, the US Pacific Fleet command said that the F-35C Lightning II jet “was conducting routine flight operations” when the crash happened on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson.
“The pilot safely ejected from the aircraft and was recovered via US military helicopter,” the statement from the US Navy’s office in Hawaii said, adding that the airman “is in stable condition”.
Of the seven sailors who were injured, three were medically evacuated to a treatment facility in the Philippine capital of Manila. The statement did not say why the three personnel had to be evacuated, but added that they were later “assessed as stable”.
Four other personnel were treated onboard the USS Carl Vinson, and three of them were released. There were no additional details provided on the condition of the fourth sailor.
The US Navy said that the cause of the “inflight mishap is under investigation”.
The statement did not provide information about the condition of the F-35C aircraft and whether the USS Carl Vinson sustained any physical damage. The Philippine government has yet to issue a statement about the incident.
In October, another US vessel, the nuclear-powered submarine USS Connecticut, was involved in another incident in the Indo-Pacific region. None of the sailors involved suffered life-threatening injuries, but the event led to the firing of a submarine commander.
The Naval Institute news website reported that the latest incident happened as the USS Carl Vinson was conducting a military drill in the disputed South China Sea alongside the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group.
According to publicly available information, both carriers are considered Nimitz-type vessels, which are classified as “nuclear-powered” carriers.