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F-18 fighter jet blown overboard from US aircraft carrier during storm

An F/A-18F Super Hornet lands on the flight deck of USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), June 15, 2022. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kelsey Trinh/U.S. Navy)
July 11, 2022

A U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet was blown off the deck of the Nimitz class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) and into the Mediterranean Sea below when the ship sailed into heavy winds and intense rain on Friday.

The Navy first revealed the incident in a Sunday statement, saying the heavy winds and rain that led to the loss of the fighter jet were unexpected.

The service said the carrier was conducting a replenishment while at sea, which it discontinued for safety reasons during the storm, in line with established procedures.

The Navy reported all sailors on board the carrier are accounted for, but one sailor received minor unspecified injuries while conducting operations during the unexpected weather incident. The sailor was reported as being in a stable condition on Sunday and is expected to make a full recovery.

The Navy reported the Truman’s airwing remains fully mission capable.

It is unclear what efforts, if any, will be taken to recover the fighter jet that blew overboard. Navy Times reported the service is reviewing its options for recovering the fighter jet. The Navy was able to recover an F-35C in March that had similarly fallen off the deck of the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) during a landing accident in January.

In December, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered the Truman to put off its scheduled deployment near the Middle East and instead remain in the Mediterranean Sea. This move was taken to reassure North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies as tens of thousands of Russian troops gathered on Ukraine’s border.

Beginning in February, Carrier Air Wing 1 — the Truman’s embarked airwing — began enhanced air policing missions with NATO.

In April, Navy Times reported the Truman strike group’s Mediterranean Sea deployment had been extended amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. It is unclear how long the aircraft carrier and the accompanying warships in the Truman strike group could remain deployed before returning home.

“I think what we’re trying to be careful of is sort of our hard ending dates on these temporary deployments because we want to be able to monitor the situation on the ground and make the best and most flexible decisions in real-time,” said then-Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby.

The Navy announced the loss of the Truman’s Super Hornet fighter jet on the same day the service had also announced the death of a sailor on board USS Carl Vinson.