WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH — Salvage efforts have begun to collect the wreckage of a Marine Corps jet that crashed in the Atlantic Ocean earlier this month, a corps spokeswoman said Wednesday.
The U.S. Navy “Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2 is conducting the salvage operation,” said 1st Lt. Maida Zheng.
The crashed just before 5 p.m. May 6 when the pilot belonging to Marine Attack Squadron 542, based out of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, ejected from the aircraft. He was rescued by a Navy H-60 Seahawk helicopter at 5:28 p.m and taken to Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune. He has since been released and is recovering at home.
Zheng said he has not yet been cleared to fly again.
“Due to the ongoing investigation and for privacy reasons, we do not release the pilot’s name,” she said.
Several squadrons of AV-8B are based at Cherry Point in Havelock, which is roughly 20 miles southeast of New Bern. Zheng said there have been no changes to the corps’ operations.
She said no preliminary cause of the crash has been identified yet.
“The aviation mishap board formed and will be reviewing all available information, conducting interviews, site surveys and engineering investigations as necessary, and compiling the report — to include recommendations for future use,” Zheng said.
She added that the board’s review can take anywhere from a few days to more than a year.
The went down roughly 2 miles off Mason Inlet in nearly 40-foot-deep water. Several people witnessed the crash and reported it to 911.
A security zone was established around the site of the wreckage, but the Coast Guard last week lifted the restricted area, but cautioned recreational boaters that the wreckage could be a hazard.
Zheng said salvage operators have not seen any sign that the jet leaked any fuel into the ocean.
Reporter Tim Buckland at 910-343-2217 or Tim.Buckland@StarNewsOnline.com.