The US Navy said it removed fuel from a reconnaissance jet that overshot a runway in Hawaii and went into an environmentally sensitive bay last week as it works to recover the plane.
“We estimate that the aircraft had just over 2,000 gallons of fuel on board. The team extracted all the fuel that they could get out of those tanks,” Rear Adm. Kevin Lenox said at a news conference Monday, noting that the extraction avoided releasing any fuel into Kaneohe Bay, which is located on the eastern side of the island of Oahu and home to a large barrier coral reef.
The P-8A Poseidon aircraft, a twin-engine multi-mission patrol and reconnaissance jet with the airframe of a Boeing 737 passenger plane, was carrying nine crew members when it crashed on November 20.
None of the crew sustained injuries, according to Lenox.
The aircraft, which is still underwater, is sitting on a mixture of coral and sand with the left engine resting on coral, according to Commander Mark Anderson, who leads the mobile diving and salvage unit at the site.
Anderson said the plane rises with the tide so the full weight of the plane is not on the coral.
“There might have been some minor damage. We haven’t really looked at where it impacted, but from what we can tell from the ground, I mean there is no massive chunks missing. There’s nothing, you know, that is of grave concern right now,” he said.
Anderson said the focus currently remains on stabilizing the plane and developing a plan to remove it from the water.
According to Lenox, the Navy is studying two options for removing the aircraft from the water and bringing it back to the runway.
He said one option is to float the aircraft within range of a crane and have it lifted onto the runway and set down onto its landing gear. Another is to float the jet on top of cylinders and roll it up onto the runway.
Lenox said the Navy’s mission is to retain the operational capabilities of the aircraft.
“As we move to the next phase of salvage, the team of experts is working tirelessly to develop a course of action that prioritizes personnel safety, environmental safety and the restoration of mission capability,” Lenox said.
According to Lenox, an investigation into the incident is continuing and partners on the ground continue to assess the environmental impact.
CNN’s Monique Smith contributed to this report
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