The search for three military personnel missing and feared dead after a United States Marine Corps (USMC) aircraft crashed off the Queensland coast on Saturday afternoon has been called off.
Twenty-six crew members were aboard the MV-22 Osprey when it was involved in a “mishap” about 4:00pm (AEST) yesterday, US authorities said.
The search for the crew members continued throughout the night but was called off late this morning.
“Operations have now shifted to recovery efforts,” a statement from the III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF) said.
“The next of kin for the three missing marines have been notified.”
The White House said earlier that US President Donald Trump had been briefed on the search.
“The aircraft involved in the mishap had launched from the USS Bonhomme Richard … and was conducting regularly scheduled operations when the aircraft entered the water,” the III MEF said.
“The ship’s small boats and aircraft immediately responded in the search and rescue efforts.”
Twenty-three people were rescued within an hour, including one marine who was taken to Rockhampton Hospital.
Defence Minister Marise Payne confirmed no Australian personnel were involved in the mishap.
She said the US was leading the search effort but that Australia had offered assistance.
The Queensland Government has also offered support to rescue crews.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the state’s prayers were “with those US military personnel involved in the incident”.
The aircraft had been in Queensland as part of the Talisman Sabre joint training exercise between Australian and United States military forces, which ended on July 25.
A post on the USS Bonhomme Richard’s Facebook page on Saturday said the landing helicopter dock had begun “amphibious integration training … exercises out here on the Coral Sea”.
The Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft that takes off and lands like a helicopter, but flies like an aeroplane.
They have been involved in a series of high-profile crashes in recent years.
In December, five crewmembers of an Osprey had to be rescued after their craft conducted a shallow-water landing off Okinawa after a training mishap in which a rotor blade cut a refuelling hose, according to the Marine Expeditionary Force.
In January, three US soldiers were injured in the “hard landing” of an Osprey in Yemen.