Human error likely caused Seahawk crash in Sea of Japan, officials say

Sailors aboard the USS Carter Hall remove chocks and chains from a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force SH-60J Seahawk helicopter during a counter-piracy exercise on April 20, 2017.


By STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 11, 2017

Human error was likely responsible for the deadly crash of a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter in the Sea of Japan on Aug. 26, Japanese officials said.

Contact was lost with the SH-60J Seahawk during nighttime take-off and landing drills approximately 50 miles off Tappizaki, Aomori Prefecture. Search-and-rescue operations began immediately, and one survivor from the four-person crew was rescued. The helicopter’s flight data recorder was also recovered.

Officials said they pored over maintenance records and pre-flight inspection data, analyzed the data recorder and interviewed the crash survivor before deciding that human error was likely to blame.

“The Maritime Self-Defense Forces aircraft accident investigation board confirmed that there were no abnormalities to the SH-60J aircraft or its equipment,” the JMSDF Maritime Staff Office said in a statement Friday.

Seahawk flights, which had been suspended pending the investigation’s results, resumed Friday, JMSDF officials said.

Defense Ministry officials said the search for the three missing crewmembers is ongoing, though it is unlikely they will be found alive.


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