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Navy take worldwide ‘safety pause’ following recent aircraft crashes

An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Santiago Navarro)

Navy pilots and aircrews worldwide that are not deployed were grounded for a one-day “safety pause” on Monday, according to Navy officials.

“The objective is a day to focus on safety procedures,” said Navy Cmdr. Zach, Harrell, a spokesman for Naval Air Forces. “It’s a review of all safety procedures and to reemphasize we’re paying attention to all best practices.”

The “safety pause” comes after a series of crashes this month in Southern California – including of a Marine Osprey that killed five last week in Imperial County, a Navy helicopter the following day in the same general area that had no significant injuries reported and an F/A -18E Super Hornet June 3 in the desert near Trona.

Lt. Richard Bullock, the Super Hornet’s pilot, was killed in that crash. Bullock served with Strike Fighter Squadron 113.

The pause affected at least 170 Navy squadrons. Commanders of each unit determined how to best review their safety protocols and procedures.

Deployed Navy squadrons, whether on a Navy ship or on land, will be required to institute the safety pause as soon as their schedule allows.

The Navy is continuing its investigations into the recent crashes, which are expected to take weeks, if not months, to conclude, Harrell said.

Bullock, who was based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, was from Montana. He commissioned into the Navy on Oct. 21, 2016. His awards include the National Defense Service Medal.

In August, five sailors died after their MH-60S Seahawk helicopter landed on the USS Abraham Lincoln but had mechanical failure and slid off the deck, sinking 5,000 feet to the ocean floor. An investigation by the Third Fleet released in May said a hose funneling hydraulic fluid to the aircraft’s rotor.

In 2019, a Navy Super Hornet also crashed in Death Valley National Park during a routine training mission, killing its pilot.


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