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Removal of downed Navy plane could begin Saturday morning

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  • GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Navy diving and salvage personnel began preparations today for recovery of a Navy P-8A at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe.

    GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Navy diving and salvage personnel began preparations today for recovery of a Navy P-8A at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe.

Weather permitting, the Navy hopes Saturday morning to begin removing a downed P-8A Poseidon plane from Kaneohe Bay using “roller bags” to lift it above water and then mechanically roll it backward onto the lone runway at Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

The plane came to rest in plain view on the mauka side of the base.

“Hawaii has a front row seat to the (salvage) operation,” Rear Adm. Kevin P. Lenox, on-scene commander and commander of Carrier Strike Group 3, said at a base press conference today.

Elected officials and environmentalists have been asking the Navy and Marines to extract the plane as quickly as possible to reduce the risk of environmental damage ever since it skidded off the runway in rainy weather on Nov. 20.

This week’s storm caused it to pivot about 30 degrees, Lenox said.

And officials with the state Department of Natural Resources who remain on scene saw what appeared to be a sick sea turtle in the area Thursday.

It may have been the same sea turtle that showed up in the area dead today, Lenox said.

A necropsy may be conducted on the turtle and Lenox said he had no information on how it may have died.

The Navy has planned for the P-8A salvage operation to take no more than 16 hours. After it’s removed, DLNR will have as much as 24 hours to survey the reef where the plane came to rest.

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