MH-53E And MH-60 Helicopters Damaged During Storm At Naval Station Norfolk

One of the damaged MH-53E helicopters. (Photo via Wavy TV 10)

At least 10 helicopters were damaged in a sudden storm, resulting in 10 Class A ground mishaps.

On July 26, 2022, a sudden storm struck Chambers Field, the military airport which serves Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia. At least 10 helicopters were heavily damaged, including five MH-60S Knight Hawks, one MH-60R Sea Hawk and four MH-53E Sea Dragon mine countermeasures helicopters, and resulting in 10 Class A ground mishaps (mishaps that result in more than $2.5 million in damage or the total loss of the aircraft).

“The Navy is continuing to assess the full extent of the damages to each airframe, but there are no impacts to operational forces as a result of this incident,” Cmdr. Rob Myers with Naval Air Forces Atlantic told USNI News in a statement last week. “Known damages to the aircraft span from broken tail and rotor blades to structural dents and punctures in the airframes. No personnel were injured during the storm.”

Images of the helicopters overturned on the flightline quickly became viral on social media in the hours after the storm. The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm alert at 3:30 p.m. (local time), warning of winds in excess of 60 mph. The swift-moving storm was traveling toward the Atlantic when it struck Norfolk just 12 minutes after the initial warning. It is being reported that aviation maintainers were in the midst of a shift change and the limited time available prevented them to tie down the aircraft securely or move them inside the hangars.

This incident happened few weeks after a Super Hornet belonging to Carrier Air Wing 1 aboard USS Truman sailing in the Mediterranean Sea, blew off the flight deck of the aircraft carrier when it was hit by “an unexpected brief period of intense winds and heavy rains”. It is not understood if the aircraft was unchained (as aircraft are usually secured to the flight deck when parked) or if there was an equipment malfunction. The mishap is under investigation and the 6th Fleet is reviewing how to recover the aircraft.

About Stefano D'Urso
Stefano D'Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he's also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.