Missing Navy A-6 Intruder found after crashing in
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.
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
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
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.
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.