Video of the incident shows a harrowing few moments in which the aircraft disappears off the flight deck and reappears several seconds later. Crew members aboard the flight deck can be seen running. Two sections of the broken No. 4 pendant and purchase cable “recoiled sharply and backlashed,”
Eight sailors were injured aboard the USS Eisenhower when an arresting cable snapped during an E-2C Hawkeye’s landing in March 2016.
Eight sailors suffered a variety of injuries, including a fractured ankle, wrist, pelvis and legs. One sailor received skull and facial fractures while another suffered a possible traumatic brain injury.
A C-2A Greyhound and an MH-60S Seahawk also received about $82,000 in damage, according to the report. At the time of the incident, the No. 4 cable had been trapped 16 times.
Navy investigators blamed human error and an improperly programmed valve for a March incident in which eight sailors were injured when a cable used to catch a landing E-2C Hawkeye snapped on the flight deck of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.
According to a Navy report obtained by The Virginian-Pilot through a Freedom of Information Act request, maintenance personnel missed at least one and possibly two “critical steps” while working on an engine that helps operate the carrier flight deck’s cables, which are called cross deck pendants, after a previous landing. As a result, the engine failed to slow the aircraft, instead of causing the pendant to break “at or near” the Hawkeye’s tailhook.
The Navy did not find evidence of willful dereliction of duty or negligence by the maintenance workers. The report said that while there was a “lack of procedural compliance” while troubleshooting an error code from a previously arrested landing, “the sailors involved reasonably believed they had properly and conscientiously completed the complicated procedure.”
The report credits the “phenomenal airmanship” by the Hawkeye’s crew. The plane landed safely at Norfolk Naval Station, where it is part of the Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 123, or “Screwtops.”
A command investigation into the incident included recommendations for the development of additional controls for troubleshooting the carrier’s aircraft recovery system as well as a review of the system’s procedures to add necessary warnings, cautions and quality assurance.
It also included recommendations that Capt. Paul Spedero, commanding officer of the Ike, consider formal counselling, fitness evaluations, qualification removal, requalification or administrative actions for three others whose names were redacted.