A U.S. fighter pilot and weapons system officer were rescued Monday after their F/A 18 fighter jet crashed in the Philippine Sea following its takeoff from the USS Ronald Reagan, the Navy says -- marking the third incident landing the USS Ronald Reagan in the news during the last month.
The crash – which the Navy says was caused by some kind of mechanical issue that forced both aviators to eject – comes less than a month after a U.S. MH-60 Seahawk helicopter slammed into the decks of the USS Ronald Reagan shortly after takeoff. Crew on-board the aircraft carrier also have been accused in recent weeks of using, possessing and distributing the hallucinogenic drug LSD.
“The crew was immediately and safely recovered by USS Ronald Reagan search and rescue aircraft and brought back to the ship,” a statement on Monday’s incident read. The aircraft carrier has resumed its normal operations. Both aviators were reported to be in good condition and the crash is being investigated.
In the helicopter crash Oct. 19, those onboard the aircraft were conducting routine operations when it was forced to make an emergency landing on the ship’s flight deck.
Twelve personnel were injured in that crash, including four onboard the helicopter and eight on the flight deck, likely due to debris from the helicopter when it crashed with its rotor blades spinning. None of the injuries were life-threatening, officials told Fox News. Their injuries ranged from minor cuts to broken bones.
Weeks later, reports emerged that an investigation into the alleged distribution and use of LSD aboard the USS Ronald Reagan has grown to ensnare at least a dozen sailors.
Lt. Joe Keiley, a 7th Fleet spokesman, told Stars and Stripes that an additional 10 USS Ronald Reagan sailors linked to the allegations have received non-judicial punishment, but would not provide details. He added three more could face charges and the sailors – all but one of who worked in the carrier’s nuclear reactor department – were removed from their duties as the investigation started.
“Out of an abundance of caution, Ronald Reagan leadership reviewed the work previously performed by the accused sailors and no improper work was identified,” Keiley added.
A sailor from the ship also was found dead in September after getting swept out to sea while swimming during a port visit to Guam.
Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson, Stephen Sorace and Krysia Lenzo contributed to this report.