San Diego, CA (off coast) Two Navy Planes Collide, Mar 1991
AIR COLLISION DOWNS PLANES; 27 FEARED DEAD.
San Diego (AP) -- Two Navy submarine-hunting planes collided Thursday, and all 27 people aboard were feared dead in cold, choppy waters 60 miles off Southern California, authorities said.
The Navy listed the crews as missing but there was little hope any of the crew members from the downed P-3 Orions survived.
The all-weather planes were engaged in an anti-submarine warfare training exercise when they collided in bad weather, authorities said.
"I think we have to be realistic here," said Senior Chief Perry Officer Bob Howard, a Navy public affairs officer at North Island Naval Air Station. "It is very cold out there. We're talking about what apparently is a mid-air collision .. two aircraft. I would say it would be very grim."
Still, he said, the Navy was conducting an aggressive air and sea search of the crash site.
Search and rescue teams spotted some debris from the planes but found no signs of life.
There was no word on how long the search would last, but Howard said the Navy would make "extraordinary" attempts to retrieve remains and wreckage.
A Navy helicopter crew flying in the area and sailors from the destroyer USS Merrill all reported a ball of fire and loud explosion at about 2:30 a.m. PST, Howard said during a briefing at North Island Naval Air Station.
He said the accident occurred over the Pacific Ocean about 60 miles southwest of San Diego.
"They were operating in conjunction with other surface and air elements when a mid-air explosion was reported approximately the same time radio contact was lost," Howard said.
The collision occurred as one P-3 Orion was arriving to relieve the other, which had just completed its part of the exercise, Howard said. Officials were uncertain how much contact the pilots had before the crash, he said.
The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, the USS Merrill and at least two other ships, along with helicopters and fixed-wing planes were assisting in the search.
Howard said it was believed 13 crew members were aboard one P-3 Orion and 14 on the other. The planes were on a training mission from Moffett Naval Air Station near San Jose. Names of crew members were withheld pending notification of their families.
The P-3s were in contact with land and sea based air controllers during the exercise, but officials were uncertain who was directing them at the time of the collision, Howard said.
He called that "a very pivotal point," and said investigators will examine how the two planes wound up on a collision course.
Intelligencer Doylestown Pennsylvania 1991-03-22
List of Casualties:
Petty Officer 2nd Class RAY D. BECKNER, 29, Elmwood, Neb.
Lt. RONALD L. CARMODY, 27, Tiverton, R. I.
Petty Officer 2nd Class JOHN CAVUOTO, 22, Savannah, Ga.
Airman BRIAN M. CERINO, 21, Saylorsburg, Penn.
LTjg DAVID G. CHAIKIN, 25, Lexington, Mass.
LTjg MARTIN B. COX, 27, Oklahoma City, Okla.
Petty Officer 3rd Class RICHARD A. DABBS, 22, Ramer, Tenn.
Petty Officer 3rd Class CHRISTOPHER D. DAVIS, 20, Rapid City, S.D.
Petty Officer 1st Class JIMMY W. DYER, 31, Riverside, Calif.
Petty Officer 3rd Class DENNIS G. FARQUHAR, JR., 20, Brooksville, Fla.
Petty Officer 2nd Class MICHAEL L. GERMEAU, 22, Centralia, Wash.
Petty Officer 2nd Class RANDALL D. HALL, JR., 25, Saginaw, Mich.
LT MARK D. HAMILTON, 26, Cedarburg, Wis.
Petty Officer 1st Class DARYL J. HELKKINEN, 31, Chassell, Mich.
Petty Officer 3rd Class WARREN J. HOGUE, 22, Dolton, Illinois.
Petty Officer 1st Class THOMAS McNERNEY, JR., 30, Pittsburgh, Penn.
LT NED W. METCALF, 26, Sarasota, Fla.
LCDR ROBERT A. NEMECEK, Pilot, 33, Westmoreland, N.Y.
Airman DORSEY C. OWENS, JR., 19, Haysi, Va.
LT DENNIS L. REDMOND, 26, Freehold, N.J.
Petty Officer 3rd Class MICHAEL A. RICE, 23, Tacoma, Wash.
LTjg JAMES B. SHIELDS, 26, Auburn, Maine.
Petty Officer 2nd Class DANIEL W. SMITH, 27, Chetopa, Kan.
Petty Officer 2nd Class FRANCIS A. SPOSATO, 30, Tulsa, Okla.
Petty Officer 3rd Class RICHARD TAFOYA, 21, Glendale, Calif.
LT Cmdr STEPHEN A. TISDALE, 39, San Jose, Calif.
LT JAY A. WILLIAMSON, 27, Moore, Okla.