Head of US Marines Osprey unit sacked
The US Marines Corps have sacked the commander of its Japan-based Osprey squadron ‘due to loss of trust,’ US officials said on 2 February, following a series of accidents involving the hybrid aircraft in recent months.
According to III Marine Expeditionary Force, Bryan Swenson was relieved of his duties recently ‘due to loss of trust and confidence in his ability to lead his command.’
Christopher Denver, executive officer for the Okinawa-based tilt rotor squadron, has been assigned as interim commanding officer.
The sacking comes six months after US Marines were forced to mount a major search and rescue mission when a Bell-Boeing MV-22 Osprey crashed off the east coast of Australia.
Twenty-three of the crew of 26 were rescued but the search for the remaining three was eventually called off.
In December, five crew members aboard a US Marine MV-22 Osprey were injured after what the US Department of Defense described as a ‘mishap’ resulting in the plane landing in shallow water off Okinawa in southern Japan.
The MV-22 – a hybrid helicopter-turboprop with a checkered safety record – has two engines positioned on fixed wingtips that allow it to land and take off vertically.
Residents in Okinawa – which hosts the bulk of some 47,000 American troops in Japan under a decades-long security alliance – have protested against the deployment of Ospreys in the country following the accidents.