Marine Corps to phase out Sea Stallion helicopter, the type involved in crashes off Kaneohe and in Okinawa

The Marine Corps’ helicopter that crashed in Kaneohe Bay in March killing a crew member was Sea Stallion.  The Honolulu Star Advertiser reports that the Sea Stallions will be retired from service:

After a start that came during the Vietnam War, the Marine Corps’ aging CH-53D Sea Stallion helicopters — the type that crashed in Kaneohe Bay in March, killing a crew member — are expected to be completely retired from service in the next year and a half, officials said.

A replacement program could begin as early as September, when the first of 12 newer and more capable CH-53E Super Stallions is expected to take up residence with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463, a unit now in southern Afghanistan.

A squadron of 12 MV-22 tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft, meanwhile, is tentatively scheduled to arrive in Hawaii in 2014, the Corps said.

The article also mentioned that this is the same type of helicopter that crashed into a building of the Okinawa International University in 2004:

One of the Hawaii-based choppers crashed on Aug. 13, 2004, on the grounds of Okinawa International University in Japan. The helicopter maintenance crew’s lack of sleep was cited in the investigation as possibly contributing to the failure to reinstall a cotter pin that led to the destruction of the $14.5 million aircraft, the Stars and Stripes newspaper had reported.

The accident intensified calls for the closure of Futenma air base.  Reporters were not allowed to videotape or photograph the crash site by Marine personnel.  The helicopters contain depleted uranium as weights on the rotors which could have been released in the crash and fire.  Was there any releases of depleted uranium in Kaneohe?

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