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Sailor remains hospitalized in stable condition after USS Wasp accident

Marines from the 24th MEU pass LCAC 70 on Camp LeJeune.
Photo by Steve Walsh
Marines from the 24th MEU pass LCAC 70 on Camp LeJeune.

One sailor was flown to the Naval Hospital at Portsmouth and remains in stable condition after a training exercise involving the USS Wasp and Marines from Camp Lejeune.

The Navy says 35 sailors and Marines were injured when two hovercraft collided in the waters off Florida Thursday. A third craft helped rescue the personnel on board.

Most of the injured were treated at local hospitals or onboard the USS Wasp and USS New York. The Navy has not released further details on what caused the collision.

“The investigation into this incident is ongoing,” said CDR. Lara Bollinger, public affairs officer for the Navy’s 2nd Fleet.

Called Landing Craft Air Cushioned (LCAC), the craft is designed to be used in amphibious landings.

The crew includes a pilot, copilot, loadmaster and deck engineer. It is surrounded by a shirt that inflates so the craft can hover on top of the water and drive directly onto a beach without a pier. It is large enough to carry equipment, vehicles and Marines.

At the opposite end, the craft is driven into the welldeck of ships waiting offshore. Around since the 1980s, LCAC are considered the backbone of the Marines amphibious landing strategy.

The USS Wasp is equipped to hold three of the craft. Overall delays in Navy shipbuilding have also impacted the repair as well as the building of new LCAC.

Two weeks earlier, two of the same hovercraft were part of an exercise at Camp Lejeune where they came ashore from the USS Wasp.The craft were participating in the final exercise for the USS Wasp and 24nd Marine Expeditionary Unit.

The Wasp Amphibious Ready Group is scheduled for leave for the eastern Mediterranean at the end of the month.

The Navy would not comment on how the deployment will be affected.

Steve joined WHRO in 2023 to cover military and veterans. Steve has extensive experience covering the military and working in public media, most recently at KPBS in San Diego, WYIN in Gary, Indiana and WBEZ in Chicago. In the early 2000s, he embedded with members of the Indiana National Guard in Kuwait and Iraq. Steve reports for NPR’s American Homefront Project, a national public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans. Steve is also on the board of Military Reporters & Editors.

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