The U.S. Navy says one sailor from Louisiana and two sailors from Florida died in an aircraft crash in the Philippine Sea.

 

The families of Airman Matthew Chialastri of Baton Rouge, Woodlawn High graduate, and Lt. Steven Combs and Airman apprentice Bryan Grosso both of Florida were notified of their deaths following the Wednesday crash, according to a news release from the Navy’s 7th Fleet.

Chialastri was one of 11 people on a C-2A Greyhound to the USS Ronald Reagan when it crashed into the Philippine Sea, the Navy reported.

The twin-propeller plane came down about 500 nautical miles southeast of Okinawa as it was bringing passengers and cargo from Japan to the aircraft carrier, the Navy said in a statement.

The cause wasn't clear and the crash is still being investigated.

Chialastri’s position in the Navy was that of aviation boatswain's mate, with duties that included preparing and fueling planes prior to takeoff and after landing.

The USS Ronald Reagan led the combined search and rescue efforts with Japanese Navy, the U.S. Navy statement said.

The Nov. 16-26 joint exercise in waters off Okinawa has been described by the Navy as the "premier training event" between the U.S. and Japanese navies, designed to increase defensive readiness and interoperability in air and sea operations.

The Navy's Japan-based 7th Fleet has had two fatal accidents in Asian waters this year, leaving 17 sailors dead and prompting the removal of eight top Navy officers from their posts, including the 7th Fleet commander.

The USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker collided near Singapore in August, leaving 10 U.S. sailors dead. Seven sailors died in June when the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship collided off Japan.

The Navy has concluded that the collisions were avoidable and resulted from widespread failures by the crews and commanders, who didn't quickly recognize and respond to unfolding emergencies.

A Navy report recommended numerous changes to address the problems, ranging from improved training to increasing sleep and stress management for sailors.