The US Navy has managed to recover the F-35C that crashed into the South China Sea on on January 24 after hitting the ramp of aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.
US 7th Fleet’s Task Force (CTF) 75 and Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) retrieved the aircraft on March 2.
The wreckage was recovered from a depth of approximately 12,400-feet by a team from CTF 75 and the NAVSEA’s Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV) embarked on the diving support construction vessel (DSCV) Picasso.
“The task force’s expertise in rapid, scalable command, control, and communications, agile logistics, organic security, and explosive ordnance disposal was the most flexible choice for the fleet commander to respond in a timely manner,” said CTF 75 Commodore, Capt. Gareth Healy.
“Ultimately, this deliberate approach resulted in the correct capabilities conducting recovery operations within 37 days of the incident. Given the unique challenges of this problem and the unique technical capabilities that NAVSEA delivered, this was an aggressive and achievable timeline.”
The aircraft was recovered using a CURV-21, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), which attached specialized rigging and lift lines to the aircraft. The ship’s crane lifting hook was then lowered to the seafloor and connected to the rigging, and then lifted the aircraft to the surface and hoisted it onboard Picasso.
The aircraft will be delivered to a nearby military installation to aid in the ongoing investigation and evaluated for potential transport to the United States.
“The recovery effort shows the US Navy commitment to its assets, and a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the navy said.
The F-35C crash took place during the first deployment of an aircraft carrier with the fifth-generation aircraft in its air wing. The pilot safely ejected from the aircraft and was recovered via an embarked military helicopter. The crash injured even sailors aboard the carrier.