Eight warships joined a United States aircraft carrier and scores of helicopters and planes yesterday to search for three American sailors missing after their plane crashed in the Philippine Sea.
The twin-propeller plane crashed about 500 nautical miles (925 kilometers) southeast of Okinawa while bringing passengers and cargo from Japan to the aircraft carrier.
"Our entire focus is on finding all of our Sailors", said Rear Adm. Marc H. Dalton, Commander, Task Force 70.
The C-2 is a twin-engine cargo plane created to transport people and supplies to and from aircraft carriers. "As hard as this is, we are thankful for the rapid and effective response that led to the rescue of eight of our shipmates, and I appreciate the professionalism and dedication shown by all who participated in the search efforts".
The Yokosuka-based Ronald Reagan was conducting an annual bilateral maritime field-training exercise with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force at the time.
The Navy has contacted the families of the lost sailors, but will withhold their names for 72 hours, as is its policy.
A Navy public affairs officer told CNN the plane was on approach to the carrier, but didn't know how far away it was from the ship.
Military sources told Fox News that Navy officials are investigating several possible causes of the crash, including an extremely rare dual engine failure.
Furthermore, the USS John S. McCain crashed into a commercial vessel in the Strait of Malacca off the coast of Singapore in August.
Wednesday's crash is the latest in a string of accidents to befall the 7th Fleet this year, including two collisions involving guided-missile destroyers that left 17 sailors dead.
Seven sailors died in June when the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship collided off Japan.
The incident follows a nonfatal collision between a US destroyer and a Japanese tugboat during a towing exercise on Saturday. In January, the USS Antietam ran aground near its base in Japan, and in May, the USS Lake Champlain collided with a South Korean fishing vessel.
Another incident in East Asian waters involved a U.S. 3rd Fleet ship: In May, the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain was struck by a South Korean fishing boat off the Korean Peninsula.
They had covered almost 1,000 square nautical miles in the search for the sailors, who had been missing since the C-2A Greyhound crashed about halfway between Okinawa and Guam on Wednesday afternoon.