Wreckage and Bodies from U.S. Osprey Aircraft Found by Divers Off the Coast of Japan

U.S. and Japanese divers have made a significant discovery following the tragic crash of a U.S. Air Force Osprey aircraft last week off the coast of southwestern Japan. The wreckage and the remains of five crew members have been located, the Air Force announced on Monday.

The CV-22 Osprey, carrying eight American personnel, crashed during a training mission last Wednesday near Yakushima island. At the time, the body of one victim was recovered and identified. Now, the Air Force Special Operations Command revealed that two of the five newly located remains have been retrieved, but their identities are yet to be determined.

The joint U.S.-Japanese search operation is still ongoing as efforts continue to recover the remains of the three other crew members from the wreckage. The search also continues for the two individuals who are still missing.

“The main priority is bringing the Airmen home and taking care of their family members. Support to, and the privacy of, the families and loved ones impacted by this incident remains AFSOC’s top priority,” the Air Force said in a statement.

On Saturday, the U.S. military identified one confirmed victim as Air Force Staff Sgt. Jacob Galliher of Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

The crash site is located in an area about 30 meters deep in the ocean.

The U.S.-made Osprey is a hybrid aircraft capable of taking off and landing like a helicopter but with the ability to rotate its propellers forward and cruise much faster, similar to an airplane during flight. However, Ospreys have been involved in a number of crashes, raising concerns about their safety.

In response to the recent accident, Japan has suspended all flights of its fleet of 14 Ospreys. Japanese officials have requested the U.S. military to resume Osprey flights only after ensuring their safety. However, the Pentagon stated that no formal request has been made, and the U.S. military continues to operate 24 MV-22s, the Marine version of Ospreys, based on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa.

On Sunday, pieces of wreckage collected by Japan’s coast guard and local fishing boats were turned over to the U.S. military for examination. Debris collected by Japan’s military will also be handed over to the U.S.

Despite the recovery of wreckage, no significant evidence related to the cause of the crash, such as an engine, has been found. Witnesses in the area reported seeing fire coming from one of the engines prior to the crash.

Local fishing boats have played a crucial role in the search efforts, sacrificing their daily catch. The Defense Ministry plans to compensate them for their lost income and fuel, according to public broadcaster NHK.

Under the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, Japanese authorities do not have the right to seize or investigate U.S. military property unless the U.S. consents. This makes it practically impossible for Japan to independently investigate the cause of the accident.

This agreement has complicated Japanese investigations in criminal cases involving American service members in the past and has been criticized as unfair by rights activists and local officials, including Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki, who has called for revisions to the agreement.

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