Shannon airport sees John Kerry make unexpected u-turn

Plane of US secretary of state refuelled in Ireland after Riyadh trip before Paris turnaround

US secretary of state John Kerry leaves his plane as he arrives in Amman last week. Photograph:  Muhammad Hamed /Reuters

US secretary of state John Kerry leaves his plane as he arrives in Amman last week. Photograph: Muhammad Hamed /Reuters

Sun, Mar 30, 2014, 18:48

There was drama at Shannon Airport on Saturday when two US aircraft made unexpected u-turns, one with mechanical problems and the other to undertake an urgent diplomatic mission.

US secretary of state John Kerry had spent a week travelling in the Middle East and was returning to Washington from Riyadh in Saudi Arabia when his jet landed at Shannon for a refuelling stop.

While the aircraft was being refuelled Mr Kerry strolled around the transit lounge and Duty Free shops at Shannon shadowed by Secret Service personnel.

Mr Kerry was also seen sitting alone talking on one phone while apparently checking emails or messages on another device.

Soon afterwards, Mr Kerry returned to his jet which didn’t depart for Washington as expected but instead headed for Paris to hold unscheduled talks on the crisis in Ukraine with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.

A short time earlier, US military aircraft was forced to return to Shannon after suffering engine problems over the Atlantic.

The United States Navy Reserve Hercules C130 transport plane had departed Shannon earlier and was headed to Bangor in the US state of Maine.

The flight, ‘CNV 3949’, was about 30 minutes into it’s transatlantic journey when the crew received an alert in the cockpit indicating an issue with the number 4four engine.

The crew shut down the engine as a precaution, informed air traffic controllers of their issue and advised them that they wished to return to Shannon and have the matter investigated.

The crew did not declare an emergency however the airports fire and rescue crews were alerted and remained on standby in the station as a precaution.

The aircraft landed safely at 1.30pm and was met by ground crews and engineers. The aircraft is attached to VR-53 a logistics and support squadron based in Washington.