[Updated at 6:05 p.m. ET] A Navy fighter jet experienced a "catastrophic mechanical malfunction" during takeoff Friday over the military community of Virginia Beach, Virginia, and rained a stench of jet fuel shortly before crashing into apartment buildings, according to residents and Navy officials.
The jet carried a student pilot in the front seat and an experienced instructor behind him, and the dumping of jet fuel was "one of the indications that there was a mechanical malfunction," Navy Capt. Mark Weisgerber told reporters.
The malfunction is being investigated, he said.
The two pilots, a police officer and three other people were taken to Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital, Dr. Thomas Thames, the hospital's vice president of medical affairs, told CNN affiliate WAVY.
None of the injuries was considered life-threatening, Thames said.
Virginia Beach Mayor William Sessoms told CNN that nine people suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
The crash and explosion ruptured the easy mood of spring break and the unfolding Easter and Passover holiday weekend, and the two-seater F/A-18 jet landed eerily upright in flames in a courtyard surrounded by five apartment buildings suddenly set afire, according to residents and authorities.
The two crew members ejected safely, the Navy said. Resident Pat Kavanaugh told CNN affiliate WTKR that he and others found one of them still strapped to his seat with a lacerated face. Kavanaugh said he was on his couch when he heard a loud boom and was startled to see a parachute hanging from the building.FULL STORY
The legendary aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, America's oldest active-duty warship, was steaming in the Atlantic on Monday on the last deployment of its 50-year career.
The carrier and its crew of 3,100 left Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia on Sunday in the ship's 22nd deployment. The ship's air wing and other naval staff aboard add another 1,500 personnel.
It will be deployed in the Navy's Sixth Fleet and Fifth Fleet areas of operations, which cover Europe, Africa and the Middle East, including current hot spots Iran and Syria.
"Enterprise is as ready and capable as she has ever been throughout her 50 years," the ship's commanding officer, Capt. William C. Hamilton, said in a statement. "The ship and crew's performance during work-ups demonstrates that the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier has never been more relevant."
Nicknamed the "Big E," the Enterprise, CVN-65, is the eighth U.S. Navy vessel and second aircraft carrier to carry that name.
The first carrier Enterprise was built in 1937 and was one of only three carriers built before World War II to survive the conflict. That Enterprise was decommissioned in 1947 as the most decorated warship in U.S. naval history.
The current Enterprise, at 1,123 feet the longest ship in the U.S. Navy, saw its first action 11 months after its commissioning, when it was to dispatched to enforce a blockade of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. It participated in strikes on North Vietnam in the 1960s and '70s. In 2001, Enterprise was one of the first ships to respond to the September 11 terrorist attacks, as its warplanes dropped 800,000 pounds of bombs on Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, the Navy said.
U.S. special forces swooped into Somalia in a pair of helicopters in a daring overnight raid to rescue two kidnapped aid workers - an American and a Dane - and killed several gunmen, American officials said Wednesday.
The hostages, Jessica Buchanan and Poul Thisted, were seized in October after they visited humanitarian projects in northern Somalia, said the Danish Refugee Council, the agency for which they worked.
Both are unharmed, the aid group said.
They were taken to a regional medical facility and receiving care from U.S. military doctors and nurses, Pentagon spokesman George Little said.
As this third week in January starts, we're learning three things about the U.S. military aircraft carrier program:
– The Pentagon may be looking at reducing the number of carriers in the U.S. fleet from 11 to 10 to save money.
– The military's new F-35C Joint Strike Fighter may not be suitable for carrier use.
– Aircraft carriers make fine automobile transports.
On the first point, The Washington Times reports, citing unnamed sources, that the U.S. Navy may be trying to cut one of its 11 carriers to save money.
Congress has mandated by law that the Navy maintain 11 carriers. But the Pentagon is also under orders from the Obama administration to cut $488 billion from its budget within the next 10 years, Rowan Scarborough reports in the Times.
Cutting a carrier, along with the other forces that make up and support a carrier battle group, could save the Navy billions of dollars, according to the Times report.
Jeanne Moos’ quirky view of the world around her has earned her a place in the hearts of CNN.com viewers. Her videos are often among the most-viewed videos each day. (In case you missed yesterday’s top-ranked piece showing delivery guys manhandling fragile packages, you can find it at the bottom of this post.) We’ve assembled the most popular pieces of the year, as well as some of Jeanne’s favorites. Plus, find out what she thinks of her picks.
Flour power — One of Jeanne’s favorite pieces of the year was a video of two toddlers covering every inch of a room in flour. The mess brought the mom to tears. “I don’t have kids, and this is a great excuse for why not,” Jeanne says. See why.
No water from the sky means there will be college basketball on the water Friday evening in San Diego.
Well, technically not on the water but several stories above it on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.
Organizers said Thursday that rain moving toward the San Diego area would not come until Saturday, meaning the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic, pitting the North Carolina Tar Heels against the Michigan State Spartans, could be played on a court constructed on the carrier's flight deck.
"Right now, everything is all go for up here on the flight deck," Bob Mazza, an organizer of the event, said in a report on CNN-affliate KFMB-TV.
The U.S. Navy's newest destroyer, the USS Spruance, has arrived in Key West, Florida, where it will be formally commissioned next week.
The 509-foot-long Spruance is a multimission ship that will carry Tomahawk cruise missiles and two helicopters.
“It was the commanding officer's choice on where he wanted the commissioning," said Trice Denny, spokesman for Naval Air Station Key West, where the destroyer arrived. "He picked Key West because he has been here before, and he knew it would be memorable for the crew and their families."FULL STORY
When the six F/A-18 Hornets in the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels flight demonstration team thrill the crowds at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River Air Expo in Maryland this weekend, they'll be soaring on biofuel.
Each of the six Hornets will be powered by a 50/50-blend of jet fuel and camelina-based biofuel, according to a Navy press release.
Camelina is a high-oil flowering plant grown in rotation on land used for wheat and on land too marginal for food production, according to Sustainable Oils, the company providing it to the military. Sustainable Oils says camelina can also reduce carbon emissions by 80% over jet fuel.
The camelina mix has been successfully tested in several military aircraft, including the Air Force's A-10 Thunderbolt, F-15 Eagle, F-22 Raptor and C-17 Globemaster, as well as the Navy F/A-18. Two Air Force F-16s from the Thunderbirds demonstration team flew with the mix during a performance in May, the service and Sustainable Fuels said.
"This will be the first time an entire unit has flown on a biofuel mix," Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said in the Navy release. "Changing the kinds of fuels we use and the way we use them is critical to assuring the Navy and Marine Corps remain the most formidable expeditionary fighting force the world has ever known."
By 2016, the Navy plans to deploy the Great Green Fleet, an aircraft carrier strike group powered entirely by non-fossil fuels, Mabus has said.
For a brief moment on CNN on Monday, a U.S. soldier who served alongside a decorated Army pilot - one of the men killed in this month's Chinook helicopter crash in Afghanistan - spoke directly to that fallen pilot's 10-year-old son. (See how to give to the fund.)
"Braydon, buddy, from your extended Army family, we just want to let you know that we had the privilege of serving with your father," Army Capt. Jamie Schwandt said Monday on "CNN Newsroom." "We found out first-hand just how great of a person your father really was.
"He loved you so much," Schwandt continued, his voice breaking. "He talked about you all the time. You should be extremely proud of him."
Schwandt has set up a college trust fund for Braydon Nichols, the son of Bryan Nichols, a chief warrant officer who was piloting the Chinook helicopter when it was shot down by Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan's Wardak province on August 6. (Learn more about Nichols on CNN.com's Home and Away site, which chronicles those killed in the Afghan war.) The officer was among a team of elite SEALs and other American and Afghan personnel who died in the crash. The Chinook was shot down while on a mission to help Army Rangers who had come under attack in the area. (Learn more about the SEALs who died.)
Braydon, with the help of his mother, Jessica Nichols, of Kansas City, Missouri, posted an iReport just hours after learning that Bryan Nichols had died. She and her son were watching television news reports that showed photos of other men who died, and the boy asked his mother why there were no pictures of his father. Braydon wanted to change that, so he and his mother went to CNN.com to post the iReport, which included a picture of Bryan Nichols.
CNN.com published a story about that iReport.
The response from CNN's audience was immediate, massive and heartfelt. More than 54 pages of iReport tributes have poured in - more than 250 - to CNN.com. There have been dozens of notes to the boy on Bryan Nichols' Home and Away page. Some of those messages are from fathers who sent photos of them hugging their own young sons, writing that the story of Braydon's loss broke their hearts. Many readers wrote CNN.com to say that the story of the American boy losing his dad minimized their everyday personal problems. Others wrote to say that they had also lost a loved one during wartime.
Jessica Nichols told CNN.com that the child continues to read every message, and he understands that a lot of people are offering their support to him and other children whose parents have been touched in some way by the nearly 10-year war.
With China’s first aircraft carrier completing sea trials this week, we thought it would be good to look at other countries that operate aircraft carriers.
Aircraft carriers give nations so-called blue water navies, with the ability to project military power far from their nation's shores. The carriers often are good neighbors, too, as essential platforms for disaster relief and humanitarian assistance.
Brazil: The Brazilian navy operates the Sao Paulo, a French Clemenceau-class light aircraft carrier it acquired from France in 2000. The Sao Paulo can carry up to 40 aircraft and operates with a mix of A-4 jets and helicopters. It was originally commissioned in France in 1963.
France: The French navy operates the Charles de Gaulle, a nuclear-powered light aircraft carrier. The de Gaulle can carry 35 to 40 aircraft and about 2,000 personnel. It entered service in 2001. Most recently the de Gaulle has been supporting NATO operations over Libya.
India: The Indian navy operates the INS Viraat, formerly the British carrier HMS Hermes, which it acquired in 1987. Viraat is a vertical short takeoff and landing carrier with displacement of almost 29,000 tons. It can carry up to 12 fighter aircraft and nine helicopters.
The CH-47 Chinook that crashed Saturday in Afghanistan is the workhorse helicopter of the military, used for decades to haul large numbers of troops and quantities of equipment.
Depending on the configuration, the tandem-rotor Chinook can carry 33 to 55 troops, plus two pilots on the flight deck, according to Jane's Defence Equipment and Technology.
The Boeing-built copter runs on two Honeywell engines providing 3,000 to 4,000 horsepower each. It is capable of speeds up to 159 mph. The front rotor turns counter-clockwise while the rear rotor turns clockwise. The Chinook's three cargo hooks can lift up to 60,000 pounds of equipment.
The military fleet of nearly 1,000 Chinooks comprises multiple configurations with different types of mission-specific avionics, armor and equipment, including night vision, weather radar, infrared engine noise suppression and infrared countermeasures to ward off heat-seeking missiles.
About 450 Chinooks have been sold to other countries' militaries, according to Jane's All the World's Aircraft.
Three U.S. Navy ships arrived Friday - as welcome guests - at the Vietnamese port of Da Nang.
The visit is part of a seven-day celebration of the 16th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two former enemies, the Navy said in a press release.
The 7th Fleet delegation consists of the guided-missile destroyers USS Chung-Hoon and USS Preble, the rescue and salvage ship USNS Safeguard, additional sailors from the Logistics Group Western Pacific command, and a mobile diving and salvage team.
The Safeguard underwent repairs at a Vietnamese shipyard in 2009, the Navy said.
Territorial tensions have risen in recent weeks between Vietnam and China over the South China Sea, but the U.S. says the visit is a planned training mission focusing on "non-combatant events and skills exchanges in areas such as navigation and maintenance."
U.S. Navy sailors from the guided missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea rescued 26 crew members of a Liberian-flagged tanker after an attack by pirates off Yemen on Wednesday, according to Navy and media reports.
A rocket-propelled grenade struck the 144,000-ton crude carrier Brilliante Virtuoso in an early-morning pirate attack, setting fire to crew quarters on the vessel, according to a report from Reuters Africa.
"It is understood that the pirates fired RPG into the accommodation area, which started a fire," ship manager Central Mare Inc. said in a statement quoted by Reuters Africa. "As a result the pirates abandoned their efforts to take control of the ship and left the scene, and the master ordered evacuation of all crew members."
The Philippine Sea responded to a distress call from the Brilliante Virtuoso and found the crew of 26 Filipinos in a lifeboat. The U.S. ship did not see any sign of pirates, according to the Combined Maritime Forces, a 25-nation coalition under which the Philippine Sea was operating.
Two tug boats dispatched from Aden were escorting the tanker with its load of a million barrels of fuel oil to safe port, Reuters Africa reported.
A conservative legal watchdog group says the deadline is up and is suing the CIA and Defense Department to release photos and videos of the May raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
"The American people by law have a right to know basic information about the killing of Osama bin Laden," Tom Fitton, president of Washington-based Judicial Watch, said in a statement. "President Obama's personal reluctance to release the documents is not a lawful basis for withholding them. The Obama administration will now need to justify its lack of compliance in federal court. This historic lawsuit should remind the administration that it is not above the law."
The al Qaeda mastermind was killed when U.S. Navy SEALs stormed his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2. He was later buried at sea. Though some members of Congress have been allowed to see photos and CIA Director Leon Panetta initially said it was "important" that the photos be released, President Barack Obama said his administration would not release photos of the slain terrorist leader or his burial.
The photos - which have been described as gruesome and reportedly show brains hanging out of bin Laden's eye socket - could be used as a propaganda tool and could result in additional violence against American interests, Obama told "60 Minutes" last month, comparing the release of the photos to an unnecessary end-zone celebration.
Fleet Week: New York's City annual salute to the nation's military begins Wednesday. Thousands of military personnel will be in the Big Apple for the Fleet Week event, which was first held in 1984.
Highlighting this year's event will be a visit by the USS New York. The amphibious transport ship, which was constructed with 7 1/2 tons of steel salvaged from the wreckage of the World Trade Center destroyed in the September 2001 terrorist attacks, returns to New York City for the first time since being commissioned there on November 7, 2009.
The ship will be open for public visits during Fleet Week, which concludes June 1.
Obama address: President Barack Obama will address both houses of the British Parliament on Wednesday.
Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, told reporters on Tuesday that Obama would reaffirm that the U.S.-British alliance and NATO are "the cornerstone of global security and the extension of the democratic values that we share."
"The United States and the United Kingdom, along with our allies, are the ones who shoulder particular burdens for global security," Rhodes said. "We see that in Afghanistan. We see that in our efforts against al Qaeda. We see that of course today in Libya."
CNN television coverage begins at 10 a.m. ET. The president’s speech will be live-streamed on CNN.com and on the CNN Apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. CNNPolitics.com will feature in-depth reporting on what to expect and The Political Ticker will incorporate live blogging during the speech.
On Twitter, follow CNN anchors for additional live commentary during the address: @wolfblitzercnn, @suzannemalveaux, @richardquest and @zainverjeecnn.
Extreme weather: The National Weather Service says Wednesday could bring more severe storms in parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee.
The weather pattern that brought Tuesday's tornado outbreak in the Plains is moving into those states Wednesday, forecasters said.
"Conditions will once again be favorable for the development of long-lived rotating thunderstorms that could produce strong, fast-moving tornadoes," the weather service said.
The Department of Defense is looking into ways to "pump up the security" for the team of Navy SEALs who helped kill Osama bin Laden after the commandos expressed concern for their safety and the safety of their families, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday.
Gates made the comment in response to a question at a town hall meeting at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. A Marine asked what measures were being taken to protect "the identities and the lives" of the SEALs involved in the takedown of bin Laden in Pakistan a week ago, as well as other troops deployed in the region, from the threat of retaliation.
"We are very concerned about the security of our families – of your families and our troops, and also these elite units that are engaged in things like that. And without getting into any details ... I would tell you that when I met with the team last Thursday, they expressed a concern about that, and particularly with respect to their families," Gates told the audience.
"Frankly, a week ago Sunday, in the Situation Room, we all agreed that we would not release any operational details from the effort to take out bin Laden. That all fell apart on Monday, the next day."
Gates' comments offered the first insight into the mindset of the team members since they carried out the risky operation.
SEALs, short for Sea, Air and Land teams, are known as "quiet professionals." They keep a low profile because of the classified nature of their tactical operations.
The team, known as SEAL Team 6, is widely believed to have returned to American soil. But the unit is covered with such a degree of secrecy that the military won't confirm its presence.
The Marine's question underscored sentiment among military and intelligence communities that identification of the team signified an unprecedented breach of confidentiality.
Gates acknowledged the threat of retaliation against Team 6 and troops deployed in the region.
"There is an awareness that the threat of retaliation is increased because of the attacks – because of the action against bin Laden," he said. "The one thing I would tell you, though, is that I think there has been a consistent and effective effort to protect the identities of those who participated in the raid, and I think that has to continue."
A Pentagon spokesman later cautioned against interpreting Gates' response "as a criticism of any particular person or office."
"He was indeed voicing his concern about the breakdown in operational security after the killing of Bin Laden," Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Geoff Morrell said. "Anonymous sources revealing secret information about the tactics, training, and equipment of covert forces put at risk our ability to successfully mount similar missions in the future."
A day after joining survivors of the September 11 attacks in New York City, President Barack Obama will meet with those who killed the leader of the group behind the plot, Osama bin Laden, a senior administration official said Thursday.
Obama will travel to Fort Campbell in Kentucky on Friday "to privately thank some of the special operators involved in the operation," according to the official. On Wednesday, the president met at the White House with Adm. William McRaven, the head of the Joint Special Operations Command "to thank him personally," the official said.FULL STORY
The hunt for Osama bin Laden that went on for almost a decade led to a final mission that was completed in a matter of minutes. But how? The mission utilized specialized troops, heavy government coordination and extreme precision. Go behind the scenes of this tactical operation in today's Gotta Watch.
Night of the killing- What really happened the night the U.S. killed Osama bin Laden? Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence takes a close look at the operation that took down one of the world's most elusive and feared terrorist leaders.
Five more midshipmen have been expelled from the U.S. Naval Academy for allegedly using "spice," a mixture of herbs and a synthetic chemical similar to the chemical THC in marijuana.
Last January, CNN reported seven midshipmen had been expelled as part on an investigation of spice use at the academy. Now a spokesperson at the Academy confirms the number of expulsions has reached 12.
"There have been four male 2nd class (juniors), six male 3rd class (sophomores), one male 4th class (freshman), and one female 3rd class midshipmen separated in conjunction with this investigation (totaling 11 males, 1 female)," according to Jennifer M. Erickson, an academy spokeswoman.
The 3rd class female was the most recent separation. She was expelled Monday.
The investigation of spice use at the academy began last fall and is continuing.
"We will not speculate about any potential, additional expulsions," Erickson said.FULL STORY