MIAMI (CBSNewYork/AP) — The U.S. Navy has identified two sailors from Florida and another from Louisiana who died in an aircraft crash in the Philippine Sea.
In a news release, the Navy’s 7th Fleet said the families of Lt. Steven Combs and Airman apprentice Bryan Grosso of Florida and airman Matthew Chialastri of Louisiana were notified of their deaths following the Wednesday crash.
The C-2A “Greyhound” transport aircraft was traveling to the USS Ronald Reagan when it crashed. Eight people were rescued. U.S. and Japanese ships searched for the three missing sailors.
The Nov. 16-26 joint exercise in waters off Okinawa has been described by the Navy as the “premier training event” between the U.S. and Japanese navies, designed to increase defensive readiness and interoperability in air and sea operations.
“Their service and sacrifice will be lasting,” said Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, commander of the 7th Fleet.
The Navy’s Japan-based 7th Fleet has had two fatal accidents in Asian waters this year, leaving 17 sailors dead and prompting the removal of eight top Navy officers from their posts,.
The USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker collided near Singapore in August, leaving 10 U.S. sailors dead. Seven sailors died in June when the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship collided off Japan.
The Navy has concluded that the collisions were avoidable and resulted from widespread failures by the crews and commanders, who didn’t quickly recognize and respond to unfolding emergencies. A Navy report recommended numerous changes to address the problems, ranging from improved training to increasing sleep and stress management for sailors.
The release didn’t provide hometowns for the men, but all three were assigned to the Ronald Reagan.
The Navy is investigating the cause of the most recent crash.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)