Rear Admiral Brian P. Fort
Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Japan
Accident of the U.S. Navy MH-60 Helicopter in the waters east of Okinawa Island (Protest)
The Okinawa Prefectural Government received a report that an MH-60 assigned to USS Blue Ridge went down in the international water about 180 kiometers east of Okinawa Island on January 25th 2020, approximately at 4:24 PM.
Although details of the accident such as the cause and the circumstances have not been confirmed yet, we believe that the situation is practically the same as a crash considering the fact that the helicopter could not return to the ship.
The point where the accident occurred is close to the sea route which connects the Okinawa Island and Minami-daito and Kita-daito islands. It is truly regrettable from the viewpoint that a single misstep in the accident could have caused damages to fishing boats and civilian ships in this area.
Further, accidents have been frequently caused around Okinawa not only by the military aircrafts belonging to the U.S. military bases in Okinawa, but also by other U.S. military aircrafts which belong to other bases. It has raised concerns among the prefectural residents.
We, the Okinawa Prefectural Government, strongly protest against the occurrence of the accident and firmly demand extensive investigation in to the cause as well as implementing effective preventive measures. We also firmly call on the U.S. Forces to ensure thorough safety management and suspend the operation of the same type of aircraft in Okinawa until the safety is confirmed.
Governor of Okinawa Prefecture
Note: This document has been translated from the Japanese original for reference purposes only. In the event of any discrepancy between this translated document and the Japanese original, the original shall prevail.