Two fighter planes collided on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk yesterday, killing one crewman, injuring two others and sending a $17 million F14 Tomcat fighter to the bottom of the Indian Ocean, the Navy said.
An investigation was immediately launched. The carrier is on "routine" maneuvers, according to the Navy, which would not disclose its exact location.
The Navy said Petty Officer Garrel M. Powers of San Diego was killed. The two injured men--who were not seriously hurt--were not identified, pending notification of next of kin.
The collision, the second such fatal crash on a U.S. carrier in four months, occurred about 5 a.m. local time yesterday (about 6 p.m. EDT Sunday) when an A7E Corsair was making its landing approach to the Kitty Hawk. It collided with an F14 taxiing on the flight deck.
Cmdr. Mike Sherman said at Navy Air Force Pacific Headquarters in San Diego, Calif., that the F14's two-man crew ejected safely. It was not known how many were aboard the Corsair, but no one on it was injured. After the collision, the Tomcat rolled overboard into what Sherman described as "deep" water.
The Navy spokesman could not say whether the fighter was armed with a missile. Five years ago the loss of a similar plane carrying a Phoenix missile led to a salvage operation costing several million dollars because the Navy feared that the Soviet Union might try to recover the plane from the North Sea off the Scottish coast.
A Navy spokesman in San Diego said, "There is no hope of recovering the F14 because the water is just too deep."
The Kitty Hawk, with a crew of about 5,000, left San Diego in March and has been taking part in maneuvers with the 7th Fleet. The investigation of Monday's incident is being directed from the fleet's Subic Bay base in the Philippines.
The collision is the most serious flight-deck accident since a Marine electronic warfare jet crashed on the USS Nimitz off Jacksonville, Fla., in May, killing 14 men and injuring 48. Three F14s were destroyed in the fire that followed.
The Corsair involved in the Kitty Hawk crash was assigned to Attack Squadron 22 at Lemoore Naval Air Station in California; the F14 was from Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego, where the carrier is based.
In an incident unrelated to the collision, a Kitty Hawk crewman was lost overboard about 10 hours after the accident. Despite an immediate search, his body has not been recovered.