Search and rescue operations continue to search for three US Marines after their MV-22B Osprey crashed while exercising in the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area, north of Rockhampton, Queensland on Saturday.
The Osprey, from the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (VMM-265) ‘Dragons’ based in Japan and assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, crashed after launching from the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard at around 4pm.
In a statement, the 31st Marine Expeditionary Force said the Osprey, with 26 personnel aboard, was conducting “regularly scheduled operations” when the tiltrotor entered the water.
“The ship’s small boats and aircraft immediately responded in the search and rescue efforts,” read the statement.
“Twenty-three of 26 personnel aboard have been rescued. The circumstances of the mishap are currently under investigation. There is no additional information available at this time.”
At the time of writing, a search and rescue operation was still underway to locate the three missing personnel which involving aviation and maritime assets from from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group.
Defence Minster Senator Marise Payne confirmed that there were no Australian Defence Force personnel on board the Osprey.
“I have briefed Prime Minister Turnbull and spoken with Secretary Mattis this evening to offer Australia’s support in anyway that can be of assistance,” said Senator Panye in a statement on Saturday evening.
“Our thoughts are with the crew and families affected.”
The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit shared photos on Twitter of an Osprey conducting training from the USS Bonhomme Richard off the coast of Shoalwater Bay a day prior to the accident.
A #31stMEU MV-22 flies over the horizon near @LHD6BHR. U.S. amphib training continues off the coast of Australia to be ready at all times. pic.twitter.com/HTu67mDk1O
— AmphibForce7thFleet (@Amphib7FLT) August 4, 2017
MV-22B Ospreys from VMM-265 and the USS Bonhomme Richard had recently participated in Exercise Talisman Saber, which concluded in late July.