Chatan protests drop of jet junk
August 13, 2004
HATAN, Okinawa — The Chatan town assembly Wednesday passed a resolution protesting the dropping of a piece of metal from a Marine F/A-18 Hornet in June.
The piece of a metal pipe, weighing about 7.5 ounces, was found in the yard of a home in Chatan’s Mihama district, near Kadena Air Base and Camp Lester, on June 15. After an investigation, the Marine Corps apologized last week for the mishap.
Marine officials described the piece of metal, about 7.5 inches long and 1.2 inches in diameter, as a “chamber assembly,” removed daily and reinstalled before each flight.
In the June 15 mishap, “the assembly was improperly installed,” according to a Marine Corps news release.
“Marine Corps officials take aviation safety very seriously,” the release stated. “The Marine Corps regrets any anxiety that we may have caused the resident, the residents of Chatan and the Okinawan people.”
Marine 2nd Lt. Antony Andrious, a public affairs officer, said the command directed “an immediate, comprehensive review of all publications, procedures and checklists applicable to the operating and maintenance procedures that govern the component that was lost.”
Also, training was conducted for maintenance personnel and supervisors, focusing on the proper installation and securing of chamber assemblies, Andrious said.
Chatan’s city government indicated it considers the Marines’ apology unsatisfactory.
“The report hardly touched on the cause of the accident or preventative measures,” stated a resolution passed by the Chatan Town Assembly during an emergency session Wednesday afternoon.
“We would have to say that the report is insincere,” stated the resolution, which is addressed to the U.S. ambassador to Japan, commander of U.S. Forces Japan, the U.S. Consulate on Okinawa and the commander of Marines in Japan.
The town is demanding that any accidents or mishaps be reported to the town without delay and all flight activities over residential areas be suspended.
“The metal piece landed in a yard of a resident,” the resolution stated. “Fortunately, it did not lead to a major accident involving human life. However, we must take it seriously. Giving permission to the U.S. military to use military bases does not allow them to expose the lives and properties of our residents to danger.”
The resolution noted that there have been “at least 26 cases of objects falling from military aircraft” since Okinawa was returned to Japan in 1972.
“It is still fresh in our memories that a flare bomb, an auxiliary fuel tank and canopy glass fell from aircraft in quick succession in 2002,” the resolution stated. “Each time an accident occurs, the U.S. military promises to ensure safety and give thorough training to its troops, yet a similar accident has happened again.”
Last week, the Defense Facilities Agency Bureau in Naha informed Okinawa’s prefectural government of the investigation result. The prefecture subsequently filed requests asking U.S. officials to take “every possible measure for the safe operation of aircraft.”