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US navy prepares to search seabed for crashed plane and sailors

Deep water salvage experts are being deployed to search for a transport aircraft that crashed in the western Pacific last month, killing three sailors, the US navy said.

The C-2A Greyhound aircraft was travelling to the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan when it crashed the day before Thanksgiving in the Philippine Sea. Eight people were rescued.

The plane's last position on the surface is known but the depth of the water exceeds 16,000 feet, the Navy said in a statement.

A salvage team will depart Japan aboard a contracted salvage vessel in the coming days to deploy a pinger locator to try to pick up the aircraft's emergency location signal.

If successful, the navy said that additional assets will be deployed to recover the aircraft and the fallen sailors.

The sailors were identified as Lt Steven Combs Jr and Airman Apprentice Bryan Grosso of Florida and Airman Matthew Chialastri of Louisiana.

One of Mr Combs's sisters, Elizabeth Combs, said that her brother was piloting the aircraft and managed to settle it in the sea, allowing for the rescue of the eight people.

The navy called Mr Combs's actions "heroic".

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

The Japan-based 7th Fleet has had two fatal naval accidents in Asian waters this year, leaving 17 sailors dead and prompting the removal of eight top Navy officers from their posts, including the 7th Fleet commander.


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