US Marine Corps Grounds CH-53Es in Okinawa Following Fiery Landing

By S.L. Fuller | October 12, 2017
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MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Lance Cpl. Kieran Hayes a landing support specialist with Combat Logistics Battalion 15, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit waits for a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter to get in position to conduct helicopter support team mission during PHIBRON-MEU integration training at Camp Pendleton, April 13, 2017. The CH-53E Super Stallion makes the MEU that much more capable as it is able to move personnel, equipment, and vehicles from ship to shore, demonstrating the 15th MEU's ship-to-shore connector capabilities. PMINT lays the foundation for all the elements of the MEU to develop relationships with their Navy counterparts and gain an understanding of the teamwork required to accomplish the mission. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Frank Cordoba)

Lance Cpl. Kieran Hayes, a landing support specialist with Combat Logistics Battalion 15, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, waits for a Sikorsky to get in position. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps

The U.S. Marine Corps is grounding Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallions in Japan following the emergency landing of that aircraft type Wednesday, according to the III Marine Expeditionary Force. The force’s commanding general, Lt. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, directed a 96-hour “operational pause” Thursday morning for all CH-53Es stationed in Okinawa.

According to the Marine Corps, the pause is to ensure aircraft “readiness and the safe conduct of our aviation community.” The force plans to conduct an investigation in close collaboration with aircrew and maintenance experts to determine the cause of the incident. It is working with Japanese agencies to clean up and remove the aircraft. The force said it is in the process of conducting an initial survey at the scene “to determine the most viable platform and method of aircraft recovery.”


The Sikorsky aircraft caught fire during a training exercise, according to multiple news reports. It then made the emergency landing near the U.S. Northern Training Area on Okinawa. There were reportedly no injuries.

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