All 9 Crew Members Escape Unscathed as Aircraft Sinks Off Oahu
Honolulu, HI – Nine crew members aboard a U.S. Navy reconnaissance aircraft escaped unharmed Monday after their plane slid off the runway at a Marine Corps base near Honolulu, plunging into shallow coastal waters.
The P-8A Poseidon surveillance plane overshot the landing strip at Kaneohe Bay military facility, according to officials. It touched down in rain beyond the tarmac and coasted into the adjacent bay, sinking in about 15 feet of water just offshore.
Responders raced to the scene after the early afternoon mishap, including the Coast Guard and the Honolulu Emergency Medical Services Department. But Navy commanders quickly confirmed everyone made it safely out of the sinking airframe without notable injuries.
Photos showed the aircraft tipped sideways with its fuselage and wings poking above the surface, eerily reminiscent of Captain Chesley Sullenberger’s famous Hudson River ditching dubbed the “Miracle on the Hudson.”
Eyewitness Diane Dircks of Illinois saw the extraordinary scene unfold through binoculars from a nearby dock. “We went running over to the end of the dock, and I took some pictures,” Dircks said. “It was unbelievable.”
The crash marred an otherwise routine recon flight by a Kaneohe-based patrol squadron temporarily deployed from Washington state. Investigators will now probe why the $220 million warplane overran the rain-slicked runway into the bay framing the base on Oahu’s eastern shore.
Monday’s incident delivered a scare but ultimately avoided tragedy thanks to fast rescue coordination by air station personnel. It underscored the versatility of the twin-engine P-8A, which shares much of its design with Boeing’s 737 airliner.
The U.S. fleet of Poseidons has amassed over 400,000 mishap-free flight hours hunting submarines and performing surveillance missions across the Pacific. Officials credit the aircraft’s ruggedness for enabling the Kaneohe Bay crew’s safe exit despite unexpected water contact.
Marine Corps Base Hawaii says operations continue without impact from Monday’s dramatic plane overrun. Meanwhile, the partly-submerged Navy aircraft will soon be hauled ashore as all nine crew members recover from their own “miracle” escape.
Photo by Lance Button
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