Aus­tralia will use its armed forces in search of Marines

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Joseph Hinch­liffe

THE AUS­TRALIAN gov­ern­ment said yes­ter­day it would de­ploy its armed forces to as­sist in re­cov­ery ef­forts after the US Marine Corps sus­pended a search for three Marines miss­ing since their air­craft crashed off Aus­tralia’s north­east coast a day ear­lier.

The Marine Corps said ear­lier they had shifted from a searc­hand-res­cue ef­fort to a re­cov­ery op­er­a­tion, which could last sev­eral months, and had no­ti­fied the next-of-kin of the three miss­ing Marines.

“The tran­si­tion comes after sev­eral teams led con­tin­u­ous sus­tained search ef­forts which have been sup­ported by air­craft and ships,” the III Marine Ex­pe­di­tionary Force, based in Ok­i­nawa, Ja­pan, said.

“As the sea state per­mits, re­cov­ery ef­forts will be con­ducted to fur­ther search, as­sess and sur­vey the area…,” they said.

The US Marines have de­scribed the in­ci­dent in­volv­ing the MV-22 Osprey tilt-ro­tor air­craft as a “mishap” and said it was un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Ospreys have been in­volved in in­ci­dents re­sult­ing in deaths or in­juries in re­cent years.

Aus­tralian De­fence Min­is­ter Marise Payne said the Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment would as­sist the US-led re­cov­ery ef­fort after what she de­scribed as an “ex­ten­sive search-and-res­cue op­er­a­tion” was called off.

Ospreys have been in­volved in in­ci­dents re­sult­ing in deaths or in­juries in re­cent years.

“Our thoughts are with all those af­fected by this tragic event and the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment stands ready to sup­port the US fur­ther in any way we can,” she said.

Payne said a Royal Aus­tralian Navy sur­vey ship was en route to the search area. A navy div­ing team would be sent soon and army avi­a­tion as­sets were “at short no­tice readi­ness to sup­port any fur­ther re­quire­ments”, she said.

Apart from the three miss­ing Marines, 23 other per­son­nel aboard the air­craft had been res­cued. Aus­tralian emer­gency of­fi­cials said one per­son had been taken to hospi­tal in Rock­hamp­ton in north­east­ern Queens­land state but gave no other de­tails.

“All other per­son­nel are ac­counted for and safe,” the III Marine Ex­pe­di­tionary Force said on Twit­ter.

The in­ci­dent hap­pened off the coast of Shoal­wa­ter Bay in Queens­land at about 4pm lo­cal time on Satur­day, the Marine Corps said.

They called off the search at about 3am yes­ter­day.

The air­craft that crashed had taken off from the USS Bon­homme Richard (LHD 6) am­phibi­ous as­sault ship and was on reg­u­lar op­er­a­tions when it hit the wa­ter, ac­cord­ing to the Marines Corps. – Reuters

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