YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — A visit to Asia from the U.S. Navy’s top officer and top enlisted sailor was canceled Monday after a tire on their aircraft apparently blew out on takeoff from an Alaska runway, Yokosuka officials said Tuesday.

Although the plane landed safely, said Cmdr. John Wallach, spokesman for Commander, Naval Forces Japan, a delay in repairing it made the trip for the chief of naval operations and the master chief petty officer of the Navy impractical.

“They didn’t want to have high-ranking officials in Tokyo and Seoul having to try to rearrange their schedules,” Wallach said. “A lot of their itinerary would have had to be sacrificed.”

The trip, including stops in Japan and South Korea, was designed to enable Adm. Vern Clark and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Terry Scott to meet with Japanese and South Korean officials and visit U.S. sailors deployed in Asia, Wallach said.

Wallach said the mishap occurred Monday in Alaska. He said he didn’t know where specifically or when it happened or what type of aircraft was involved. He said those aboard the plane heard an unusual noise on takeoff and the flight crew, unsure of what had made the noise, returned to the airport.

“It wasn’t an emergency problem,” Wallach said.

Pieces of rubber were found on the runway, he said, and it was determined a tire had blown out.

The group was grounded because a necessary part for the repair was unavailable, Wallach said.

Clark, a four-star admiral, is the senior military officer of the Navy, reporting to the secretary of the Navy regarding naval command, use of resources and operating efficiency. As a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the CNO also is the principal naval adviser to the president on war conduct.

As the Navy’s senior enlisted person, Scott advises the CNO and chief of naval personnel on matters dealing with enlisted personnel and their families.

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Nancy is an Italy-based reporter for Stars and Stripes who writes about military health, legal and social issues. An upstate New York native who served three years in the U.S. Army before graduating from the University of Arizona, she previously worked at The Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Times. Over her nearly 40-year journalism career she’s won several regional and national awards for her stories and was part of a newsroom-wide team at the Anchorage Daily News that was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

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