Home News USMC aircraft catches fire at sea during takeoff

USMC aircraft catches fire at sea during takeoff

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Aviation Boatswain's Mate Airman Ronald Garcia signals to the pilot of an AV-8B Harrier II assigned to the air combat element of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit before take-off on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). Boxer is conducting predeployment training during the amphibious exercise Dawn Blitz. Dawn Blitz is a scenario-driven exercise led by U.S. 3rd Fleet and 1st Marine Expeditionary Force that will test participants in the planning and execution of amphibious operations through a series of live training events. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian Jeffries/Released)
Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Airman Ronald Garcia signals to the pilot of an AV-8B Harrier II assigned to the air combat element of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit before take-off on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). Photo by Brian Jeffries/Released)

An AV-8B Harrier II was nearly totaled last week after catching fire while preparing to take off from the Navy amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge during a sortie in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

According to the Marine Corps Times, the Harrier malfunctioned on March 8th at around 1300 hours, as the Kearsarge was underway in the Persian Gulf.

While no one was hurt during the incident, the fire has been classified as a “Class A” mishap, meaning it incurred damage of more than $2 million.

Since the beginning of FY16, the USMC has had four Class A mishaps, with the recent fire being the only incident for the Harrier II fleet thus far.

The investigation is expected to take between three and eight months, said Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Sarah Burns.

“The Marine Corps rigorously investigates all aviation mishaps to identify the causes, learn from them, and rectify the problems that occurred,” Burns said.

The Captain also noted that the investigation into the March 8th fire is just getting started.

“The investigatory process is very thorough and is intended to find the cause of the mishap in order to prevent the same thing from happening again. The findings and recommendations from this comprehensive process could potentially save future lives. Because the process is so thorough, it takes time.”

The USS Kearsarge is no stranger to excitement. In June of 1995, Harrier IIs and Marine helicopters took off from her deck to rescue Captain Scott O’Grady, a USAF F-16 pilot who had been shot down in the Balkans during the Bosnian War.

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