The Navy said yesterday that another of its $14.5 million F-14 Tomcat jet fighters has crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, this one while attempting to land on an aircraft carrier 50 miles east of Norfolk, Va.
Unlike the celebrated loss of another Tomcat off the cost of Scotland last year, the plane that sank late Monday was not armed with a highly secret Phoenix missile, a Navy spokesman said.
The Navy, prompted by fears that Russians might try to recover that plane and missile off Scotland, spent several million dollars in what eventually was a successful recovery operation.
Both the pilot and the radar-intercept officer assigned to the plane that crashed Monday while attempting to land on the carrier America were resland on thecarrier America were rescued uninjured, but the Navy has yet to decide whether to attempt to recover its plane, according to Navy Cdr. Jack Barry in Norfolk.
Barry, public affairs officer for the Navy's Atlantic Air Command, said the cause of the latest accident was not known and that a Navy board of investigation will be convened to determine what caused the plane to crash short of the stern of the huge carrier, which was deployed off the Virginia Capes on a routine training mission.
Navy officials said they believe they know the precise location where the plane was lost, but recovering the plane "will really not be that easy," Barry said. It is believed resting 8,000 feet underwater, he said.
The plane that rolled off the carrier John F. Kennedy off Scotland's Scapa Flow settled under 1,890 feet of water and proved far more difficult to recover than Navy officials had first predicted.
Barry said the Navy typically recovers such planes only when they are needed to determine what caused their crash. Officials will "have to take a lot of judgment factors" into consideration before deciding whether to attempt a recovery of the latest crashed plane, he said.
The pilot of thecrashed plane was identified as Lt. (j.g.) G. A. Quist of Virginia Beach and his radar officer as Lt. J.G. Stevens of Castleberry, Fla. Both are assigned to Fighter Squadron 143 at the Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach