The U.S. Navy said two aviators died after an F-18 Super Hornet fighter jet crashed off the coast of Key West on Wednesday.
"We are sad to report both aviators have passed away," U.S. Naval Air Force Atlantic Comdr. Dave Hecht said in a statement late Wednesday.
The aviators were identified Thursday night as Lt. Caleb King and Lt. Cmdr. Brice Johnson. The circumstances of their deaths have not yet been released.
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“As warfighters they excelled in combat, as officers they exemplified the values our Navy holds dear. I was extremely proud to have led, flown, and served with both Brice and Caleb," U.S. Navy Cmdr. Kevin Robb said in a statement, adding the men were "exceptional aviators and living models of what honor, courage and commitment really mean."
The jet was part of Virginia-based Strike Fighter Squadron 213, according to the U.S. Navy. The crew ejected.
U.S. Naval Air Forces said the jet crashed as it was on its final approach to the base at about 4:30 p.m.
"Rescue crews recovered both aviators from the water; they were taken by ambulance to Lower Keys Medical Center," U.S. Naval Air Forces wrote on Twitter previously. "The jet was on a training flight; cause under investigation."
The Monroe County Sheriff's Office said it received a call that a fighter jet crashed in or near the naval air base in Boca Chica Key.
MCSO said it dispatched units but that the U.S. Navy reached out and said it had the situation under control and did not require assistance.
Naval Air Station Key West was formally established in 1940 and is largely used as a training facility for air-to-air combat fighter aircraft for all military branches.