Five U.S. Navy sailors aboard a MH-60S helicopter that crashed into the Pacific Ocean on Aug. 31 are dead and the ongoing search is now a recovery operation, according to the U.S. Navy.
“The transition from search and rescue efforts to recovery operations comes after more than 72 hours of coordinated rescue efforts encompassing 34 search and rescue flights, over 170 hours of flight time, with five search helicopters and constant surface vessel search,” the Navy said in a statement.
The helicopter was flying from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln when it crashed into the ocean while conducting routine flight operations about 60 nautical miles off the coast of San Diego, California, according to a Navy statement.
One crewmember was plucked from the Pacific Ocean last week and the search for five more U.S. Navy personnel aboard the MH-60S Seahawk continued until Sept. 4.
Multiple Coast Guard and Navy aircraft and surface vessels were dispatched to search for the six crewmembers. The several-day search-and-rescue operation included Coast Guard District 11, the USS Cincinnati (LCS 20), and helicopter squadrons from the U.S. Pacific Fleet Helicopter Sea Combat Wing and Helicopter Maritime Strike Wing.
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At about 12:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, one crewmember was rescued, according to the Commander of Third Fleet Public Affairs. The rescued sailor was transported to shore and is in stable condition, Third Fleet said in a later statement.
The MH-60S was assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 8 and was “operating on deck before crashing into the sea,” according to Third Fleet.
The Navy has identified the personnel lost as Lt. Bradley A. Foster, 29, a pilot from Oakhurst, California; Lt. Paul R. Fridley, 28, a pilot from Annandale, Virginia; Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Bailey J. Tucker, 21, from St. Louis, Missouri; Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Sarah F. Burns, 31, from Severna Park, Maryland; Naval Air Crewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class James P. Buriak, 31, from Salem, Virginia.
It is unclear whether the Seahawk helicopter was taking off or landing when the crash occurred, but five other sailors aboard the Lincoln were injured in the incident. Two of the five were transported ashore for treatment and are in stable condition. The other three were treated for “minimal injuries” and remain aboard the ship.
The Navy has launched an investigation into what caused the incident and is providing regular updates on search-and-rescue operations.