KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii – A Navy surveillance plane overshot a runway and ended up in Kaneohe Bay on Monday. Despite the dramatic incident, all nine people aboard the P-8A Poseidon aircraft remained uninjured, authorities confirmed. The Coast Guard responded to the scene, but rescue operations were quickly called off. Marine Corps spokesperson Gunnery Sgt. Orlando Perez had no information about what caused the P-8A Poseidon aircraft to go off the runway. A photo taken by witness Diane Dircks showed the plane in water just offshore.
Diane Dircks, visiting from Illinois, and her family had just returned to the dock after their pontoon boat trip was cut short due to rainy weather when her daughter noticed the plane in the water. “We went running over to the end of the dock, and I took some pictures,” she said. The Honolulu Fire Department received a 911 call for a downed aircraft shortly after 2 p.m., according to spokesperson Malcolm K. Medrano. It was cloudy and rainy at the time with visibility at about 1 mile.
The base sits on Kaneohe Bay, which is home to coral reefs, a breeding ground for hammerhead sharks and a University of Hawaii marine biology research institute. The military surrounded the crash site with booms to keep any leaked fuel from spreading but did not offer any assessment of any possible environmental damage, according to a report by Hawaii News Now. “I’m so glad that everyone was rescued and survived the crash,” Kahaluu resident Jonee Kaina told the station. “But I think someone needs to take a look at the impact the plane is doing to our marine life. There is jet fuel, anti-freeze and other toxins.”
The P-8A and the Airbus A320 that pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landed on the New York river in 2009 are roughly the same size. The P-8A is often used to hunt for submarines and for reconnaissance and intelligence gathering. It is manufactured by Boeing and shares many parts with the 737 commercial jet. The plane belongs to the Skinny Dragons of Patrol Squadron 4 stationed at Whidbey Island in Washington state, and the base is a key military installation on Oahu.