Navy, Marine Corps conducting cleanup after F-35 crash


HEMINGWAY - The U.S. Navy Region Southeast On-Scene Coordinator team, in coordination with Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, is leading the aircraft recovery and environmental cleanup in Williamsburg County, South Carolina, after the Sept. 17 incident involving a Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II.

The mission of the Navy On-Scene Coordinator program is to provide emergency response and consequence management services for all Navy and U.S. Marine Corps incidents across the Southeast region that may have an environmental or public health impact. Additionally, the Navy On-Scene Coordinator team ensures the restoration process is aligned with environmental laws.

Members of the Navy Region Southeast On-Scene Coordinator program, based at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, arrived on scene Sept. 19 to begin recovering and removing the aircraft wreckage.

"The first priority of our team was to recover the wreckage and begin relocating it to a secure location," explained Sarah Murtagh, Navy On-Scene Coordinator.

Environmental restoration of the area includes bringing in specialists to determine any impacts surrounding the mishap site.

"We will remove damaged timber and crops as necessary at the crash site and sample soil to determine the boundaries of the area that will need to be restored," Murtagh said. "Our goal is to return the property as close to its original condition as we can."

Navy representatives have been meeting with property owners, lessees and other parties involved with the identified parcels near the mishap site to discuss the restoration process.

"We appreciate the overwhelming support we have received from the Navy On-Scene Coordinator team as well as the community, and I would like to thank the local law enforcement and other agencies of Williamsburg County and South Carolina for their quick, professional response," said Col. Mark D. Bortnem, the commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.

Environmental restoration for this site is ongoing. At this time, there is no estimate for the completion of work.

The mishap is under investigation. The Department of the Navy has a well-defined process for investigating aircraft mishaps. We are unable to provide additional details to preserve the integrity of the investigatory process.