Official file photo of a C-2A Greyhound. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Alex Corona)

YOKOSUKA, Japan - A team of deep water salvage experts located a C-2A Greyhound aircraft last week that crashed into the Philippine Sea en route to USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), Nov. 22.

U.S. Navy’s Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV) deployed the team to Japan in December to embark a contracted salvage vessel and proceed to the crash site at sea. Once on station, highly skilled operators searched for the aircraft's emergency relocation pinger with a U.S. Navy-owned towed pinger locator (TPL-25) system. The TPL uses passive sensors to “listen” for the pinger’s frequency.

Initially delayed by poor weather conditions, the team deployed the TPL to optimal search depths of 3,000 feet above the ocean floor Dec. 29. After marking the aircraft’s location, the search team returned to port.

The C-2A rests at a depth of about 18,500 feet, making the salvage phase of this operation the deepest recovery attempt of an aircraft to date. In the coming weeks, the team will return to the site with a side-scan-sonar (SSS) and remote operated vehicle (ROV) to map the debris field and attach heavy lines for lifting the aircraft to the surface. Despite very challenging conditions, every effort will be made to recover the aircraft and our fallen Sailors.

Assigned to Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30, forward deployed to Japan, the C-2A aircraft was carrying 11 crew and passengers when it crashed. Eight personnel were recovered immediately by U.S. Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12. For the next three days, Ronald Reagan led combined search and rescue for three Sailors with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, covering nearly 1,000 square nautical miles before ending the search.

An investigation is in progress.