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The lost Intruder after initial assignment to the Marine Corp

Missing Navy A-6 Intruder found after crashing in 1989.
Next dive attempt on the lost Intruder May 20, 2017
After 18 intense months, the search for the lost Intruder is over. On October 16th and 17th, 2015, Maritime Documentation Society (MDS) technical divers positively identified the missing Navy attack jet. Peter Hunt located the site after meticulously researching the incident and narrowing down the probable water impact zone to one-half a square mile. He then searched the area with a recreational, Dragonfly sonar/depth sounder for twenty hours before finding the contact. It is located in Rosario Strait off of Whidbey Island, Washington.

The wreckage is strewn over several hundred feet, but the center of the debris field is concentrated sufficiently to indicate that the jet was relatively intact when it sank. Since then, salt water has caused the fuselage to fall apart.
Peter Hunt flew this exact A-6 Intruder, bureau number 159572, both from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and the U.S.S. Ranger during his time in the active duty Navy. The Intruder's crew ejected safely on November 6, 1989, after experiencing a total hydraulic failure. The Navy mounted a search effort to find and salvage the jet to determine the exact cause of the hydraulic failure that caused the $30 million dollar jet (in 1989 dollars) to crash. After spending two full months searching thirty square miles with four ships, the Navy gave up. Peter Hunt and Ben Griner spent the spring and summer of 2014 utilizing side-scan sonar to find the missing jet but were also unsuccessful.
Ten total contact identification dives were made before the lost Intruder was finally found. Hunt participated on three of the dives but had to bow out of those beyond 150 feet due to Parkinson's disease. One year ago, Hunt underwent Deep Brain Stimulation surgery. Although the procedure was successful in that it lessened the effects of the worst of the Parkinson's symptoms, the surgery limits him to a theoretical 33-foot deep diving maximum.

Maritime Documentation Society divers Rob Wilson, Paul Hangartner, and Dan Warter staged their underwater work from Peter Hunt's boat, the Sea Hunt. Three dives have been made to the site so far. The A-6 is in over 200-feet of water in an area of high current (up to four knots) and severely limited visibility. On the last dive to the site, one diver experienced an unearned decompression sickness hit, forcing a helicopter evacuation to Virginia Mason in Seattle. After four treatments in the recompression chamber, the diver has recovered completely.
A-6 159572 is one of two unrecovered Intruders in Puget Sound; the second reportedly crashed short of the airfield in Dugualla Bay on the east side of Whidbey Island in 1967. Dugualla Bay is shallow with extensive mud flats.
Peter Hunt is putting the finishing touches on a book about the remarkable search and discovery and how the project helped him navigate some of Parkinson's harshest symptoms.
January 24, 2017 Sea Hunt returned technical divers to the lost Intruder for further exploration. During a 30 minute bottom time dive to 209 feet (106 minutes total run time), Rob Wilson, Paul Hangartner, and John Sanders were able to map out more of the lost Intruder's wreckage, including the tail section and port horizontal stabilizer. The downline was dropped directly over the main debris field, where both engines, one main landing gear, the nose landing gear, and what is probably the cockpit are located. As more is discovered, it appears that the A-6 probably broke up on impact to a greater degree than previously thought.

Vertical stabilizer
Tail section where horizontal and vertical stabilizers meet
Port horizontal stabilizer
J52 jet engine from A-6 Buno 159572 (photo adapted from Dan Warter video)

Main landing gear of A-6 Buno 159572 (photo adapted from Dan Warter video)

Probable aft equipment bay (photo adapted from Dan Warter video).

Future plans for the lost Intruder

The Navy has been informed of the find and the appropriate information forwarded to the responsible parties in charge of submerged Navy aircraft and shipwrecks. The lost Intruder project intends to continue to explore the site and document the locations of as much of the debris field as can be identified. The project has no intention of raising or disturbing any part of the lost Intruder.

Project dive team Rob Wilson, Paul Hangartner, and Dan Warter. Peter Hunt on dock.

Crosswinds, 1989

Whidbey News-Times article

Comments and questions? Please email me at Peter@peterhuntbooks.com

To order Setting the Hook or Angles of Attack:

Trade paperback (281 pages) copies available at most bookstores or can be ordered online at:


Electronic-reader versions of Setting the Hook are available at:

General questions, comments, or international requests: Please email Peter Hunt with name, email, and address to determine the correct total price including international shipping & handling.


Signed copies of Setting the Hook: $24.00
(includes priority mail shipping and handling U.S. sales only).


Signed copies of Angles of Attack: $28.00
(includes priority mail shipping and handling U.S. sales only).