Four United States Marines were killed Friday during a NATO military exercise when the Osprey aircraft they were operating crashed in Norway, according to the Norwegian Armed Forces. NATO said the drills were announced months ago and noted they were not tied to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The four Marines were aboard the Osprey MV-22B during a training mission as part of Exercise Cold Response 2022 and were scheduled to land in Bodø in northern Norway a little before 6 p.m., the Norwegian Armed forces said in a press release. The crash occurred south of Bodø in Gråtådalen, Beiarn, in the Arctic Circle. Search and rescue efforts were conducted by Norwegian civil authorities, II Marine Expeditionary Force noted in a press release.
We can confirm an incident has occurred involving a Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey aircraft.
The aircraft was conducting training in Norway as part of Exercise COLD RESPONSE 22 at the time of the incident.
— U.S. Marines (@USMC) March 18, 2022
Nordland police came across the wreckage at approximately 1:30 on Saturday morning, and it was determined that all four Marines had perished, Norwegian officials said.
The crew was part of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, II Marine Expeditionary Force of the U.S. Marine Corps, and “belonged to Camp Lejeune in the state of North Carolina,” the release said.
It is not clear what led to the crash, “but Norwegian police reported bad weather in the area,” the Associated Press noted. Both Norwegian and American authorities are investigating the crash.
Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre confirmed their deaths in a tweet.
“It is with great sadness we have recived [sic] the message that four American soldiers died in a plane crash last night,” he said. “The soldiers participated in the NATO exercise Cold Response. Our deepest sympathies go to the soldiers’ families, relatives and fellow soldiers in their unit.”
It is with great sadness we have recived the message that four American soldiers died in a plane crash last night. The soldiers participated in the NATO exercise Cold Response. Our deepest sympathies go to the soldiers’ families, relatives and fellow soldiers in their unit.
— Jonas Gahr Støre (@jonasgahrstore) March 19, 2022
The Marine Corps has not publicly confirmed the deaths, but the II Marine Expeditionary Force announced the four are now listed in “Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown.” Their identities will not be released until 24 hours after their next of kin have been notified.
Exercise Cold Response 2022 involves some 30,000 troops from 27 countries in Europe and North America that are NATO allies or partners, NATO said. The exercises are being held in Norway and surrounding areas to test the troops’ “ability to work together in cold weather conditions across Norway – on land, in the air and at sea,” according to NATO. The exercises are scheduled to continue into April.
Despite Friday’s fatal crash, the Norwegian Armed Forces said the exercises “will carry on as planned, with the measures we have to take due to the weather,” according to the Associated Press.