RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
A U.S. Navy transporter plane carrying 11 people crashed into the Pacific Ocean off Japan. Eight survivors have been rescued, and the search for the other three is ongoing. NPR's Rob Schmitz joins us from Shanghai with more on this. Hi, Rob.
ROB SCHMITZ, BYLINE: Hi. Good morning, Rachel.
MARTIN: What can you tell us about how this accident happened? Was it an accident?
SCHMITZ: Yeah. Well, around 2:45 this afternoon, local time, a U.S. Navy C-2A, which is a twin-engine cargo plane, was traveling to the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier over the Philippine Sea - that's about 500 miles south of Okinawa - as part of exercises with Japan's military when it crashed. The 7th Fleet, which this craft belongs to, hasn't confirmed the cause of the crash. But Japan's defense ministry has told reporters it was possibly an engine failure.
After the crash, there was a search and rescue operation. Eight crew members were found. According to the U.S. Navy, they've been transferred to the Reagan, and they're all in good condition. But Japanese and U.S. forces are still trying to locate the three other missing passengers who were aboard the aircraft when it crashed.
MARTIN: And this is not the first accident the seven - the 7th Fleet has been involved with in this year, right?
SCHMITZ: Yeah. It's been a rough year for the 7th Fleet. The fleet has up to 70 ships. It's responsible for a huge area in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. This year alone they've had two collisions that involved guided missile destroyers - one in August and the other in July - that together left 17 sailors dead.
The admiral in charge of the fleet has been removed, as were seven other top brass. And crewmembers have complained this year about dysfunction within the ranks, overworked crews, low morale. So this crash couldn't have come at a worse time for the 7th Fleet.
MARTIN: NPR's Rob Schmitz covering, this morning, a crash. A U.S. Navy transporter plane carrying 11 people crashed into the Pacific. Eight survivors have been rescued. The search for the other three is ongoing. Thanks so much, Rob.
SCHMITZ: Thanks, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.