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Navy confirms P-8A plane successfully removed from Kaneohe Bay

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  • LANCE CPL. HUNTER JONES / U.S. MARINE CORPS
                                Private industry diving and salvage experts work alongside U.S. Navy Sailors with Company 1-2, Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1, using inflatable salvage roller bags to extract the U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon from Kaneohe Bay waters.

    LANCE CPL. HUNTER JONES / U.S. MARINE CORPS

    Private industry diving and salvage experts work alongside U.S. Navy Sailors with Company 1-2, Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1, using inflatable salvage roller bags to extract the U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon from Kaneohe Bay waters.

U.S. Navy officials confirmed today that a team of military and civilian experts has successfully raised the P-8A Poseidon airplane from Kaneohe Bay and back onto the Marine Corps Base Hawaii runway.

The $1.5 million salvage operation began at 6:30 a.m. Saturday and the aircraft was floated next to the runway by 10:18 a.m., officials said. By 7 p.m. Saturday, the nose wheel was lifted out of the water and the entire 130-foot-long, 60-ton P-8A was back on the runway.

“Our team went through a detailed planning process to develop the best course of action to get the P-8 out of the bay as quickly and as safely as possible,” Rear Adm. Kevin P. Lenox, the salvage operation’s on-scene commander, said in a news release today. “The entire process took 13 hours. Most of the day was spent making small adjustments to the roller bags and the aircraft position to minimize impact to the coral band adjacent to shore. At times it took us an hour to move the aircraft five feet.”

Officials said Navy Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1, working with local and off-island specialists, and supporting Naval Sea Systems Command Supervisor of Salvage teamed up to handle the delicate retrieval of the plane, which overshot the runway while attempting to land in rainy conditions on Nov. 20.

The P-8A crew, assigned to Whidbey Island, Washington-based Patrol Squadron “Skinny Dragons,” was on a maritime homeland defense mission when the aircraft overshot and ended up in Kaneohe Bay. The three pilots and six crewmembers on board safely evacuated the aircraft with no injuries reported.

The event has alarmed environmentalists, bay users and Hawaii leaders who are concerned about damage to the coral reef and other possible harmful effects of the large plane sitting in the water for nearly two weeks.

Navy officials say the incident is under investigation.

RELATED STORY: Concerns remain as crews pull Navy plane out of Kaneohe Bay

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