Marines suspend rescue effort for 3 service members after Osprey mishap off Australia

PHOTO: A U.S. MV-22B Osprey aircraft with takes off to begin a deployment to Australia in support of Marine Rotational Force - Darwin, from Marine Corps Base Hawaii, April 19, 2017. PlayCourtesy Aaron S. Patterson/U.S. Marine Corps/Handout via Reuters
WATCH Downed Osprey found off Australian coast

The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps suspended search and rescue operations early Sunday for three service members who were aboard an Osprey involved in what the military called a "mishap" off the east coast of Australia on Saturday.

The operation was turned to a recovery effort at around 3 a.m. Sunday, and next-of-kin have been notified, according to a statement from III Marine Expeditionary Force.

"The transition comes after teams led continuous sustained search efforts supported by aircraft and ships. As the sea state permits, recovery efforts will be conducted to further search, assess and survey the area, in coordination and with assistance from the Australian Defence Force," the statement said.

Twenty-three of the 26 personnel aboard the MV-22 Osprey have been rescued. The Osprey is an assault-support aircraft with the capability to land and take off vertically.

The Osprey had launched from the USS Bonhomme Richard amphibious assault ship and was conducting regularly scheduled operations when the helicopter "entered the water," according to a statement from the III Marine Expeditionary Force.

"The ship's small boats and aircraft immediately responded in the search and rescue efforts," the statement added. "The circumstances of the mishap are currently under investigation."

President Donald Trump has been briefed on the mishap by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, according to the White House.

The Australian defense minister, Marise Payne, issued a statement Saturday saying she had been advised of the incident off the coast of the country's Shoalwater Bay. Payne said she has briefed Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and spoken with U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis "to offer Australia's support in any way that can be of assistance."

"I can confirm no Australian Defense Force personnel were on board the aircraft. The United States are leading the search and recovery effort," Payne noted in her statement. "Our thoughts are with the crew and families affected."

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