Downed Osprey found off Australian coast

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

An Australian navy survey ship has located the submerged MV-22 Osprey that went down off the east coast of Australia with 26 military personnel on board, 23 of whom were rescued.

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Three U.S. Marines went down with the aircraft on Saturday in what U.S. officials referred to as a "mishap," and are still missing. Rescue efforts for the missing Marines were called off on Sunday and their next of kin have been notified.

In a statement, Australia's Defense Minister said a Royal Australian Navy (RAN) survey ship located the submerged aircraft on Monday, "shortly after commencing survey operations in the area."

The statement said a diving team arrived on scene and "would conduct remotely operated underwater vehicle operations," at the site of the crash.

"I want to thank the Australian Defence Force, and the crew of the HMAS Melville in particular, for their assistance in the search and recovery effort of our MV-22 that went down off the coast of Australia," Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, Commanding General, III Marine Expeditionary Force, said in a statement.

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.

“Recovery and salvage operations can take several months to complete, but can be extended based on several environmental factors,” the statement said. “The circumstances of the mishap are currently under investigation, and there is no additional information available at this time.”

The Osprey is an assault-support aircraft with the capability to land and take off vertically and was in Australia for a joint military training exercise held by the U.S and Australia last month.