Navy Reviews Flight Ops After Crashes

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The Navy has ordered a review of its flight safety and maintenance operations after it lost about $150 million in hardware last week. Four fighters -- three F/A-18 Hornets and an F-14 -- were destroyed in separate incidents. All crews ejected safely, although two pilots suffered minor injuries, and no one on the ground was hurt. The F-14 Tomcat went into the ocean two miles off the West Coast near San Diego, about 11 a.m. local time on Monday. Also on Monday, a Hornet crashed in an unpopulated area near Chattanooga, Tenn. Last Wednesday, an F/A-18 ditched off the South Carolina coast, and another crashed during takeoff on Friday at Raleigh-Durham Airport in North Carolina. The F-14 was involved in a carrier exercise when its crew reported engine problems. The crew was ordered to land at North Island Naval Air Station, near San Diego, but didn't make it. They were rescued by a civilian fishing boat and then picked up by a naval research vessel. Witnesses of the Tennessee incident, reported seeing the Hornet "swerving back and forth" before the crash. In Raleigh-Durham, witnesses reported that the pilot ejected while about 1,700feet into the takeoff roll. The burning jet continued rolling for about another 550 feet toward Terminal A and came to a stop about 250 feet from the terminal, according to airport spokeswoman Teresa Damiano. The pilot was hospitalized for a day but recovered to help investigators piece together the mishap on Sunday. On March 24, a Hornet went into the Atlantic off South Carolina and the pilot was unhurt.