ABOARD USS JOHN F. KENNEDY IN THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA - An F-14 Tomcat from Fighter Squadron One Forty-Three (VF-143), embarked aboard USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) crashed into the water immediately after launch at approximately noon (GMT) on 2 March. The Tomcat's two aircrew ejected. One survived and one died. An SH-60 Sea Hawk from Helicopter Support Squadron Five (HS-5), performing its assigned search and rescue (SAR) standby mission was joined by another SH-60 that launched immediately from the carrier. Additionally, boats were launched from Kennedy and USS The Sullivans (DDG 68) to assist in rescue efforts of the aviators, who managed to eject before the fighter jet plunged into the water.
The SAR team recovered one of the aviators; the other was recovered aboard the boat dispatched by The Sullivans. Both aviators were brought aboard Kennedy for medical evaluation, one perished and the second aviator is in stable condition.
The names of the aviators are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
The cause of the accident is under investigation.
USS John F. Kennedy was conducting routine flight-training operations in the Mediterranean 50 nautical miles south of Crete when the accident occurred. The carrier is en route to relieve USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), participating in Operation Enduring Freedom.