A Navy anti-submarine plane crashed in flames in Tangier Sound yesterday, injuring two crew members who parachuted into the water as their craft was going down.
The two were fished out of about 8 feet of water just east of Bloodsworth Island by Department of Natural Resources police who were on routine patrol in the area about 3:30 p.m., according to Rob Gould, a DNR spokesman.
The pilot, Lt. Cmdr. Sean Brennan, suffered burns and a broken right shoulder and was flown to the Francis Scott Key Medical Center burn unit, the Navy said. He was listed in critical but
stable condition there last night.
Lt. Cmdr. Steve Eastburg, flight officer aboard the aircraft, was treated for minor cuts and bruises and later released from the Patuxent River Naval Hospital.
Mr. Gould said DNR Cpl. Tom Shores and Officer Victor `f Kulunycz had been patrolling within two miles of the crash scene when they saw two parachutes emerge from the flaming airplane.
They were able to reach the crew members in about five minutes, Mr. Gould said.
A Naval board of inquiry is to be appointed to investigate the crash.
The jet-powered, twin-engine aircraft went down while on a routine test flight from Patuxent River Naval Air Station, the Navy said.
Fred Bradshaw, a Navy spokesman, said the plane was an S-3 Viking used mostly for submarine hunting. The S-3 Vikings, usually carrier-based, were in production from 1972 to 1978 and have "a good safety record," according to Norman Polmar, author of "Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet."
The airplane is equipped with a sophisticated array of electronics that enable it to track and destroy submarines traveling underwater, he said.