Tanker grounded while Corps probes Tuesday aviation mishap

The Marine Corps on Friday announced the indefinite grounding of the tanker aircraft that mysteriously lost cabin pressure four days earlier, triggering an emergency landing and hospital care for four troops.

“We want to identify exactly what caused this mishap, to learn the lessons from it and ensure that we prevent future problems,” said Marine spokeswoman Capt. Morgan M. Frazer.

The pressure dip occurred around 11:20 a.m. Tuesday while the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules tanker was at 21,000 feet after taking off from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. It was flying toward Fort Carson, Colorado, to drop off 46 members of Camp Pendleton’s 3rd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion for training, Frazer said.

The aviation crew of six “Raiders” from Miramar-based Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352 immediately took the four-engine turboprop plane to 10,000 feet before returning to Miramar to make an emergency landing.

“The crew acted properly to safely deliver the passengers to the ground,” said Frazer.

The next day, three Marines and a sailor passenger began showing symptoms of decompression sickness and were treated and released by physicians at Naval Medical Center San Diego.

Tuesday’s mishap came only four days after Marine Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller ordered all squadrons to pause flights for 24-hour safety training. His call for crews to rehash the “fundamentals of safe flight operations” came in the wake of a slew of Marine aircraft accidents worldwide.

The Raiders’ stand down is slated for Monday at Miramar.

Three Marines died on Aug. 5 when an MV-22B Osprey assigned to the “Dragons” of the Japan-based Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 crashed in Australia’s Shoalwater Bay during a routine training exercise.

On July 10, a Hercules KC-130T aircraft crewed by the “Yankees” of the New York-based Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 45 crashed into a bean field in rural Mississippi. Fifteen Marines and a sailor died.

The next day at Marine Corps Air Station New River in North Carolina, lightning struck three mechanics, killing one, while they worked on an MV-22B Osprey. They were assigned to the “Raging Bulls” of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261.



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