Civilian company contracted to clean up drone crash site

by JESSICA GOOLSBY,

Cleanup efforts are under way in Dorchester County, where an unmanned aircraft from Patuxent River Naval Air Station went down near Bloodsworth Island earlier this month.

“NAVFAC [Naval Facilities Engineering Command] Mid-Atlantic, based in Norfolk, Va., has sent a cleanup team to the crash scene and contracted with a civilian company for site cleanup,” said Jamie Cosgrove, a spokesperson for the Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons Program at Pax River.

That company, according to Pax River Public Affairs Officer Gary Younger, is Miller Environmental Inc., an environmental response, remediation and restoration company that provides services for industry, municipalities, commercial and residential customers in the Northeast region of the United States.

The cause of the crash on the Eastern Shore is still unknown, Cosgrove said Tuesday, but “the Navy is still conducting a thorough investigation of the incident.”

The Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Demonstrator aircraft crashed just after noon on June 11 approximately 20 miles from Salisbury while undergoing routine maintenance tests by the U.S. Navy, branch officials reported.

No one was injured and no property was damaged at the unpopulated swampy crash site, Navy officials said.

The aircraft was received from the Air Force Global Hawk program. The Air Force purchased the drones for $45.9 million each in fiscal year 2011, Lt. Aaron Kakiel, a spokesperson for Naval Air Forces Pacific, said.

The Navy had five of these aircraft until the crash, he said.

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