An Australian Navy vessel has located a sunken U.S. military aircraft that went down in Australian waters over the weekend, sparking a search for three American service members believed to have died in the crash.
“Royal Australian Navy survey ship Melville arrived in Shoalwater Bay overnight,” Defence Minister Marise Payne said Monday in a statement. “Shortly after commencing survey operations in the area, the submerged aircraft was located.”
There was no immediate word on the condition of the wreckage or whether human remains had been located.
A Marine statement indicated the Osprey launched from the USS Bonhomme Richard and was conducting regularly scheduled operations when it crashed on Saturday. Twenty-three of 26 personnel aboard the aircraft were rescued.
Family members have identified one of the three Marines believed to have died when the MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft crashed as a Maine native. Family told the Portland Press Herald that 1st Lt. Benjamin Robert Cross grew up in Bethel, Maine, and attended the Virginia Military Institute before joining the Marines.
In Maine, Ryan Cross said his 26-year-old brother loved to fly and “was proud of being a Marine and of the aircraft he flew.”
Speaking Monday to CBS News, Cross’ mother Valerie said her family has “so many awesome memories. But to know that we will never make any more with him… is unbearable.”
U.S. military officials called off the search and rescue operation on Sunday for three U.S. Marines who were missing after the crash. The U.S. Marine base Camp Butler in Japan said in a statement that the rescue operation was suspended Sunday morning. The military launched a recovery effort instead and the missing Marines’ next of kin had been notified.
President Trump was briefed on the incident by chief of staff John Kelly Saturday morning, a White House official told CBS News. Mr. Trump is at his private club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on a 17-day vacation.
The Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft that takes off and lands like a helicopter, but flies like an airplane. They have been involved in a series of high-profile crashes in recent years.
Lt. Cross’ father Robert said his son believed the Osprey aircraft had been unfairly maligned.
“He thought it got a lot of bad publicity because he really enjoyed flying it, and it was something he always wanted to do,” Robert Cross told CBS News’ David Martin.
The aircraft was in Australia for a joint military training exercise held by the U.S. and Australia last month in Shoalwater Bay. The Talisman Sabre exercise, a biennial event between the two nations, involved more than 30,000 troops and 200 aircraft.
SOURCE: CBS News, The Associated Press