Navy committed to sticking with Sea Dragon after 4th accident in two years

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Rotor blades, side panels, and metal pieces large and small are all part of the floating wreckage site where a Navy Sea Dragon helicopter crashed on Wednesday.

Navy officials confirm the crew from Helimeron 14, known as the “World Famous Vanguard,” was performing routine mine countermeasure training.

It includes flying with a minesweeper sled attached to the helicopter by a cable.

Former members of the squadron tell NewsChannel 3 they fly low to the water during this training, about 50-75 feet above the surface.

The Navy has not yet said if this training had anything to do with the Sea Dragon plunging into the Atlantic.

After Wednesday's crash off Virginia Beach, Sea Dragons have now been involved in four accidents in just the last two years.

Back in 2012, two Sea Dragons experienced engine failures and in-flight fires during deployments to South Korea and Bahrain, resulting in total destruction of the multi-million dollar aircraft.

In July of that same year, two Norfolk-based sailors were killed after a Sea Dragon crashed during a heavy lift operation in Oman.

Closer to home, NewsChannel 3's own cameras have captured a Sea Dragon making an emergency landing in Virginia Beach due to mechanical problems.

But right now, the Navy says they have no replacement for these helicopters.

And since they don't plan on buying any new ones, they are investing millions to keep up the ones they have.

“Over last two years, we have invested significant resources into program, in training and equipment, to make sure this aircraft continues to be viable,” said Captain Todd Flannery.

Wednesday’s crash was the first in recent memory to happen during mine countermeasure training.

A mishap board has been convened to look at all the factors that could have caused this Sea Dragon to crash.

Click here to read NewsChannel 3's full coverage of this incident. 

1 Comment

  • Helene Baustian

    My husband was killed in a helicopter crash off the coast of San Francisco on July 18, 1988 – 8 men were lost that day; after an investigation it was listed as pilot error. I was devasted, lft as a 21 year old widow and angry they didn’t ground the helicopters. What I did learn was that the HM-15 comrades of my husband, the ones who flew in the helicopters loved it and had no qualms about flying in them. I know several that retired after 30+ years still believing in the helicopters abilities and safety.

    July 18, 2013 I was at Norfolk Naval Station and visited my husband’s memorial on the 25th anniversary. I was unaware that there was a memorial planned the next day and I was invited to the memorial of the July 19, 2012 accident.

    What I saw at that memorial, a squadron FULL of dedicated soldiers and never did I hear anything about the safety of the helicopters. These young men, just like the ones that I met when we had our 1 year anniversary dedication, chose to continue flying and supporting the mission they believe in.

    Let the accident investigation team do their job and don’t scare the day lights out of the crewmen’s wives that there is a problem when all you have is speculation. As a wife/widow, I can tell you watching the coverage for hours before getting that news, there is such a thing as too much coverage.

    Please be considerate of the families, the surviving crewmen and the squadron, 25 1/2 years later I can tell you it is a devastating memory they don’t need burned in their minds. These wives/husbands don’t need to fear every day their spouses go to work whether they will come home or not.

    God Bless!!

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