US Marines’ commander of Japan-based Osprey squadron has been sacked ‘due to loss of trust’ following a series of accidents involving the rotorcraft in the past few months.
Bryan Swenson was relieved of his duties last week, “due to loss of trust and confidence in his ability to lead the command,” III Marine Expeditionary Force was quoted as saying in a statement to AFP on Friday.
Christopher Denver, executive officer for the Okinawa-based tilt rotor squadron, has been assigned as interim commanding officer, the statement said, without further details.
The sacking comes six months after US Marines were forced to mount a major search and rescue mission when an MV-22 Osprey crashed off the east coast of Australia.
Twenty-three of the crew of 26 were rescued, but the search for the remaining three was eventually called off.
And in December, five crew members aboard a US Marine MV-22 Osprey were injured after what the Pentagon described as a "mishap" resulting in the plane landing in shallow water off Okinawa in southern Japan.
The MV-22 - a hybrid helicopter-turboprop with a checkered safety record - has two engines positioned on fixed wingtips that allow it to land and take off vertically. It can travel much faster than a helicopter.
However, residents in Okinawa - which hosts the bulk of some 47,000 American troops in Japan under a decades-long security alliance - have protested against the deployment of Ospreys in the country following the accidents.