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Navy releases underwater video of P-8A stuck in Hawaiian coral field

The P-8A subhunter slid off a runway into the ocean at a Marine Corps air station on Hawaii last week. The Navy is preparing to haul it out.
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When a Navy P-8A Poseidon skidded off a runway in Hawaii last week, it appeared to be floating for days afterward, an unlikely but not impossible feat of buoyancy for a large, intact aircraft.

In fact, it’s just parked.

Navy Divers inspected the plane on Tuesday, November 28 to “document the marine environment” and, apparently secure the plane from floating away. What they found was the plane’s front and left rear landing gear firmly embedded in coral formations just off the end of the runway at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay on the island of Oahu. In the video of the dive released by the Navy, the plane’s right rear landing gear is shown floating several feet above the bottom.

The video shows that salvage work is already underway, with heavy-duty chains and ropes in place around the landing gear and other areas of the plane. The plane was defueled on November 26 by a crew working from shore with a long hose.

The Navy P-8 overshot the runway while landing, Navy officials said. The Navy says it plans to recover the plane and evaluate whether it can be returned to flying status.

One sequence of the dive video — which is soundtracked with just the diver’s deliberate breathing — shows the plane’s CFM International CFM56 engine, which powers both the Airbus A320 family and newer versions of the Boeing 737, two of the most widely used jets in commercial aviation.

The Navy refers to the P-8A as a “multi-mission” aircraft that can be assigned to anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare roles, along with surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), and humanitarian response.

A U.S. Marine holds a fuel hose being secured during defueling operations on a downed U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon in waters just off the runway at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Nov. 26, 2023. The successful defueling of the downed P-8A was critical to the execution of the aircraft salvage plan. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Brandon Aultman)

The P-8 itself is a modified version of the 737-800, though unlike the ubiquitous commercial jets in use by dozens of airlines, the P-8 can be armed with HAAWC torpedoes, mines, and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

A P-8 was also the featured “fly-by” aircraft at the recent Ohio State-Michigan football game.

michigan ohio state football p-8a
A P-8A overflies the November 25 Michigan-Ohio State football game. Photo from MichiganSkyMedia Instagram.

Some fans mistook the jet for its 737 cousin and wondered why a commercial airliner would overfly a game, while others enjoyed pointing out the irony of the P-8A’s “spy” capabilities as it buzzed Michigan’s home field, where the team’s head coach was banned from participating in the game as a punishment for the program “spying” on its opponents this season.

The divers were from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One, a Hawaii-based unit that responds to a wide range of salvage and recovery missions across the Pacific. The unit’s divers are among the few who, working with the U.S. Park Service, are allowed to dive on the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor to survey the sunken ship

The P-8A is assigned to Patrol Squadron (VP) 4 “Skinny Dragons,” based at Whidbey Island, Washington.

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