The U.S. Navy identified by name and photograph Saturday the three sailors who went missing last Wednesday after a plane crash in the Pacific Ocean.
The C-2 “Greyhound” aircraft carrying 11 crashed while en route to the USS Ronald Reagan. While eight of the passengers were rescued, three were still unaccounted for.
A massive search for the sailors followed. That search was called off on Thursday, the Seventh Fleet announced.
Today, the Seventh Fleet identified the deceased as follows: Lt. Steven Combs, Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Airman Matthew Chialastri and Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Apprentice Bryan Grosso.
Their ages have not yet been disclosed. Combs and Grosso were from Florida, while Chialastri was from Louisiana.
Commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer and Commander of the Carrier Air Wing Five (CVW 5) Capt. Michael Wosje expressed their condolences on Saturday.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these Sailors,” Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer said. “Their service and sacrifice will be lasting in Seventh Fleet, and we will continue to stand the watch for them, as they did bravely for all of us.”
“The thoughts and prayers of the entire team onboard Ronald Reagan go out to the families and friends of our fallen shipmates,” Capt. Michael Wosje added. “We are thankful for our professional search and rescue teams and their incredible bravery. The entire Navy team is working together to investigate the cause of this mishap, and we will remain focused on our mission to operate forward in a safe and professional manner to ensure peace and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.”
The Navy’s Japan-based Seventh Fleet said Wednesday in a statement that a search and rescue operation was launched from the USS Ronald Reagan carrier.
The plane was taking part in an ongoing joint U.S.-Japan naval exercise in waters surrounding Okinawa from Nov. 16-26. The Navy called it the “premier training event” between the two navies, designed to increase defensive readiness and interoperability in air and sea operations.
In June, the Seventh Fleet notified families of the seven sailors who drowned after a 29,060-ton container ship called the ACX Crystal collided with the USS Fitzgerald.
The Navy identified the deceased then as Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, of Palmyra, Va.; Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, of San Diego, Calif.; Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T. Truong Huynh, 25, of Oakville, Conn.; Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, of Weslaco, Texas; Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlosvictor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, of Chula Vista, Calif.; Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, of Halethorpe, Md; Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, of Elyria, Ohio.
Divers found the missing sailors after they were able to gain access to parts of the USS Fitzgerald that were damaged in the collision.
Two months later, the USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker collided, killing 10 U.S. sailors.
The deceased in that incident: Electronics Technician 1st Class Charles Nathan Findley, 31, Amazonia, Mo.; Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class Abraham Lopez, 39, El Paso; Electronics Technician 2nd Class Kevin Sayer Bushell, 26, Gaithersburg, Md.; Electronics Technician 2nd Class Jacob Daniel Drake, 21, Cable, Ohio; Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Timothy Thomas Eckels Jr., 23, Manchester, Md.; Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Corey George Ingram, 28, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; Electronics Technician 3rd Class Dustin Louis Doyon, 26, Suffield, Conn.; Electronics Technician 3rd Class John Henry Hoagland III, 20, Killeen, Tex.; Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Logan Stephen Palmer, 23, Decatur, Ill.; Electronics Technician 3rd Class, Kenneth Aaron Smith, 22, Cherry Hill, N.J.
The Navy dismissed three-star commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin in August after “los[ing] confidence in his ability to command.”
The prior ship collisions were deemed avoidable, widespread failures by the crews and commanders, who didn’t quickly recognize and respond to unfolding emergencies. A Navy report recommended numerous changes to address the problems, ranging from improved training to increasing sleep and stress management for sailors.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.