On Sunday 15th April, at 11:05 a.m., an MSDF SH-60J Seahawk made contact with DD-130 Matsuyuki, a Hatsuyuki-class destroyer before plunging into the sea off Mutsu Bay, Aomori Prefecture, 30 km southwest of Ōminato Naval Base, Asahi Shimbun reported yesterday.
Of the seven people aboard, six were recovered, but the pilot, 37-year old Lt. Cmdr. Masahiko Miyanaga, remains missing. According to the Ministry of Defense, of the six passengers recovered, three have sustained back injuries, while the other three remain unharmed.
The Matsuyuki had just left Ōminato Naval Base for exercises as part of a three-ship dispatch. The helicopter was dispatched to see off the vessels, but while passing at low-altitude from behind the Matsuyuki, the helicopter’s rotors made contact with the port-side of the ship’s helicopter hangar and then dropped into the sea and sank. The hangar has been left marked by scratches from where the rotors made contact (see this Kyodo News image).
An MSDF minesweeper was dispatched to the site of the crash and is expected to retrieve the damaged helicopter today (April 16th).
According to Sendai District Meteorological Observatory, visibility at the time of the crash was good (out to 20 km), with a wind speed of 2.9m/s.
A former contributor to World Intelligence (Japan Military Review), James Simpson joined Japan Security Watch in 2011, migrating with his blog Defending Japan. He has a Masters in Security Studies from Aberystwyth University and is currently living in Kawasaki, Japan.
His primary interests include the so-called 'normalization' of Japanese security (i.e. militarization), and the political impact of the abduction issue with North Korea.
James Simpson has 254 post(s) on Japan Security Watch