Back in January of 2022, a U.S. Navy F-35C stealth fighter jet crashed into the South China Sea. The single-engine stealth fighter had fallen on the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson while conducting routine operations.
At the time, it was reported by Navy officials that the pilot had ejected himself before the plane fell into the sea after impacting the aircraft carrier’s deck and injuring six sailors and the pilot. Since then, the Navy has been working hard on recovering the jet, trying to find it before China does as it contains some of the U.S. Navy's most advanced technologies and well-kept secrets.
Well, the Navy has finally recovered the crashed jet, according to a report published by the organization on Thursday.
A jet recovered from 12,400 feet
The jet took more than a month to find and was finally recovered from a depth of approximately 12,400 feet (3.8 km) by a team from CTF 75 and the NAVSEA’s Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV).
“The task force’s expertise in rapid, scalable command, control, and communications, agile logistics, organic security, and explosive ordnance disposal was the most flexible choice for the fleet commander to respond in a timely manner,” said in the statement CTF 75 Commodore, Capt. Gareth Healy.
“Ultimately, this deliberate approach resulted in the correct capabilities conducting recovery operations within 37 days of the incident. Given the unique challenges of this problem and the unique technical capabilities that NAVSEA delivered, this was an aggressive and achievable timeline.”
Using a CURV-21
Bringing the aircraft out of the water required the use of a very specialized tool: the CURV-21. The CURV-21 is a 6,400-pound (2,900 kg) Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) that can reach a maximum depth of 20,000 feet (6 km) in seawater. The vehicle is equipped with CTFM sonar for target location, a high-resolution digital still camera, and black and white, and color television cameras.
This tool combined with the expertise of the U.S. Navy's personnel resulted in a successful mission and the return of the jet to its rightful owners.