MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP BUTLER, Okinawa, Japan – Commanding General of III Marine Expeditionary Force, Lt Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, directed a 96-hour operational pause this morning for all CH-53E Super Stallions helicopters stationed in Okinawa, Japan to ensure CH-53E readiness and the safe conduct of our aviation community.
We will conduct a thorough investigation working closely with aircrew and maintenance experts to determine the cause of the incident. We will continue to share information with the government of Japan as details become available, while understanding that the investigation must be protected and cannot be released until complete.
III MEF is working with Japanese agencies toward the cleanup and removal of the aircraft. We are in the process of conducting an initial survey at the location to determine the most viable platform and method of aircraft recovery, stressing the importance of safety and protection to the environment.
“This is a regrettable incident, and after the investigation is complete, those with property damage as a result of this incident will be appropriately compensated,” said Nicholson. "I want to thank the local Japanese first responders who helped secure the scene quickly and safely, the members of the U.S. Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21 who evacuated our crew members, and those moving the aircraft safely today. I also want to thank everyone for the concern shown for our pilots, the local community members, and their understanding of the risks both Japanese and U.S. military men and women take daily as part of our vital responsibility to provide for the defense of Japan."