The ship stopped trying to make its way to shore only after being hit by the waters. The accident happened at a depth of about 160 feet, meaning that firefighters were able to get to the site in just a matter of minutes and put out the fire. However, they soon realized their efforts were not enough to prevent at least one drowning , as the crew tried to make their way back to their stricken ship. The crew was being taken to the hospital for treatment, and the ship has been grounded. Officials have been working this morning to determine how this happened. The incident is the latest in a long line of mishaps from the Blue Angels . The aircraft, a single-seater turboprop named the “Patriot,” are based in the area, and were in an air show as part of an annual US Navy training exercise called Sea-Air-Space 2005. It was supposed to include a mission that involves the Blue Angels’ own F/A-18 and their own Navy Thunderbirds and F/A-18C Hornets. The mission was delayed a day, which didn’t happen, so the plane was just in time for the show. The plane, which was supposed to make its first flight about six hours before the fire, eventually ended up completing a scheduled flight from Southern California’s Whidbey Island Harbor to Edwards Air Force Base, about halfway down the Peninsula. The Coast Guard initially said that there were not any immediate signs of any other casualties. Instead in the late afternoon the agency decided to announce that a fire had broken out aboard the Blue Angels’ ship, not realizing the ship’s crew was already heading back to shore for treatment.
About an hour after the disaster, the USS Blue Angel, the last of the Blue Angels in the area, was scheduled to land at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. After its initial touchdown the ship started to surface, and then the pilot ordered it to turn around for a landing south of the island. However, the captain, the ship’s captain, said he needed to return to the scene of the accident, and the ship did not go south.
Just before midnight, however, the commander ordered the Blue Angels to land as long as they stayed outside the airspace over Whidbey Island. All the Blue Angels did was attempt to land on a pier south of the island about 2 miles out, and then they waited. By the time firefighters arrived at the scene at about 1:00 AM, the blue-gloved skillets and hand guns had all been doused with hot water to prevent any further fires.
As the fire was being fought at the scene, there were no reported casualties. A Coast Guard spokesman said that it’s not clear if the fire was self-inflicted or if anything else was happening at the scene. Still, the ship is on a limited water-flight alert , and is supposed to be back in the air by Thursday for another mission. The aircraft, which can fly up to 300 nautical miles an hour, will have to be reassessed before its next flight. But the most immediate crisis is over, and the plane can still perform its dangerous maneuvers.