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2 small U.S. Navy craft sink off Japan; no injuries


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December 16, 1996
Web posted at: 10:50 a.m. EST (1550 GMT)

(CNN) -- Two small U.S. Navy amphibious craft sank off Okinawa in separate incidents on Monday. All 21 crew members were rescued unharmed.

The two Light Amphibious Recovery Craft (LARC) were conducting training exercises when they sank off Camp Schwab on the Pacific coast of Okinawa, Japan's southernmost island.

The first ship developed a steering problem, a U.S. Navy spokesman in Tokyo told CNN. Its crew transferred to the second ship, which also sank after developing engine and steering problems.

The crews were plucked out of the water by a rescue ship, the USS Dubuque.


Lost bomb

The sinking of the two amphibious craft came just as U.S. and Japanese minesweepers started searching for an unexploded bomb dropped in Okinawan waters by a U.S. Marine fighter- bomber.

The 1,000-pound (450 kg) bomb was jettisoned last Tuesday during bombing training over the uninhabited Japanese island of Torishima.

An equipment jam on the F/A-18 made the pilot unable to drop the bomb. Instead of landing at the Kadena Air Base in Okinawa with the live bomb still attached to the wing, the pilot was ordered to jettison the entire bomb rack into the East China Sea six miles (10 km) west of the Okinawa port of Naha.

It took the U.S. military six hours to notify the Japanese Foreign Ministry, the ministry said.

On Monday, Okinawa Gov. Masahide Ota said the United States still has not apologized to Okinawa for the lost bomb.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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