Navy sailors and divers from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2, embarked aboard the Navy's rescue and salvage ship 'USNS Grasp' (T-ARS-51), find and salvage a downed F-16 aircraft off the coast of Virginia.
The downed aircraft was one of two F-16 fighter jets from the 113th Wing, D.C. Air National Guard that clipped wings mid-air during a routine training mission 35 miles southeast of Chincoteague, Va., on 1, August 2013. The other aircraft involved in the incident was able to fly back to Joint Base Andrews in Md. without further incident.
Staging out of Chincoteague Island, Va., the team of six Navy Sailors, led by Operations Specialist Chief William Earp, conducted both towed and autonomous side-scan sonar searches of more than 10 square miles of ocean bottom, before locating the F-16 approximately three miles from the point of the mid-air incident.
The MDSU 2 ASP found and recovered aircraft debris using a remote operated vehicle. With the crash site located, the ASP turned over the operation to Navy Divers from Mobile Diving and Salvage (MDS) Company 2-4 who arrived on Grasp after a small-boat transfer.
The MDS Company 2-4 divers began surface-supplied diving operations soon afterwards and recovered part of the aircraft from the ocean floor by using a basket to raise large pieces of the jet from a depth of 107 feet. The next day, they recovered the flight data recorder, commonly referred to as the "black box."
The remnants of the aircraft and the flight data recorder are being transferred to Joint Base Andrews for examination by the Air Force's Safety Investigation Board.