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U.S. Fighter Jet's Engine Explodes On Carrier Off California's Coast

Mar 31, 2011

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Reported by

Bill Chappell

A fighter jet's engine exploded on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Stennis, injuring 10 sailors and causing five of them to be airlifted to hospitals in Southern California.

The carrier was conducting training exercises 100 miles off the coast of San Diego when the incident occurred.

According to a Pentagon news video on the KPBS blog The Home Front, the incident happened Wednesday.

Here's part of a report from Alison St. John of member station KPBS in San Diego:

Five of the injured sailors were flown ashore to hospitals in San Diego; the rest were treated for their burns on board the carrier. The sailors are reported to be in stable condition today and one has been treated and released. The pilot of the plane was not hurt.

A Navy spokesman says the jet was an older model F/A-18C Hornet. It was used in Desert Storm. The USS Stennis was on the second day of a training exercise to certify Marine fighter pilots. The aircraft carrier has not returned to port. Flight exercises are expected to resume soon. An investigation is under way.

The jet was about to take off using the carrier's launching catapult when a catastrophic malfunction in its engine ignited the fighter's fuel.

The Pentagon says that thanks to a quick response from the crew, the resulting fire did not do much damage to the carrier.

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