Navy conducting cleanup following Albuquerque F-35 crash

Albuquerque, NM (KKOB) — The U.S. Navy Region Southeast On-scene Coordinator team is leading the aircraft recovery and environmental cleanup following the May 24 incident involving a Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II adjacent to the Albuquerque International Sunport.

          “The last eight days has seen Team Kirtland come together to support the pilot and community as a result of the recent F-35 crash,” said Air Force Col. Michael Power, 377th Air Base Wing and Kirtland Air Force Base installation commander. “The 377th Air Base Wing, 58th and 150th Special Operations Wings, as well as first responders of Bernalillo County, the city of Albuquerque, and so many more came together to provide immeasurable support during this incident.

          Local first responders and Kirtland Air Force Base personnel took action when the incident occurred, protecting public health, securing the site, and beginning the investigative process.

“I am extremely grateful for all the fantastic work that the Air Force Interim Safety Board accomplished ahead of the official Aircraft Mishap Board,” said Navy Capt. Daniel E. Kitts, Senior Member of the Aircraft Mishap Board. “We were able to form a highly effective Navy-Air Force team to smoothly transition the responsibilities of investigating this mishap.”

Members of the Navy Region Southeast On-scene Coordinator program, based at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla., arrived on scene June 1 to begin recovering and removing the aircraft wreckage.

“The leaders and team at Kirtland Air Force Base did an excellent job stabilizing the site and preparing to receive our team,” explained John Baxter, Federal On-scene Coordinator. “Once we assumed command, we continued to work closely with installation leaders, stakeholders, and investigators to remove the debris and minimize further disruptions to the local community.”

The mission of the Navy On-scene Coordinator program is to provide emergency response and consequence management services for all Navy and U.S. Marine Corps incidents that may have an environmental or public health impact. Additionally, the Navy On-scene Coordinator team ensures the restoration process is aligned with environmental laws.

Environmental restoration of the area includes bringing in specialists to determine any impacts surrounding the mishap site.

“As we remove debris from the mishap area, we are sampling soil and testing for contaminants that will guide our remediation of the area,” said Baxter. “Our goal is to return the property as close to its original condition as we can.”

Remediation of the crash site is the focus for Kirtland Air Force Base and the Navy On-Scene Coordinator staff.

“As the recovery and investigation efforts continue, Team Kirtland will continue to provide assistance as only we can to ensure we are doing what’s best for the pilot and family, the installation, and the greater Albuquerque community,” Power said.

The On-Scene Coordinator conducts operations through coordination of local, state, and national interests, supported with Department of Defense and contractor personnel.

“For projects like this, it really takes a team of teams to be successful,” explained Baxter. “We are grateful for the tremendous support we received from the City of Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, the State of New Mexico, Kirtland Air Force Base, and most importantly, the local community.”