The Navy has begun an undersea search operation to locate and recover the helicopter and remains of five crew members who were killed in an Aug. 31 crash.
The search for the helicopter and its passengers did not begin immediately after the accident because the Navy had to gather the necessary equipment from various parts of the country, Lt. Sam Boyle, a spokesman for the 3rd Fleet, told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
“The depth and distance from shore make this a complex operation,” Boyle told the outlet. “We’re mapping the (bottom of) the ocean over the area. We are making every effort to find the wreckage and the remains of our shipmates.”
On Sept. 4, the U.S. 3rd Fleet announced that the rescue operations had shifted to recovery operations days after the MH-60S helicopter that embarked aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln crashed into the sea after experiencing “side-to-side vibrations causing [the] main rotor to strike [the] flight deck” before falling overboard, according to a center mishap report.
An offshore supply vessel, HOS Dominator, deployed on Wednesday to help with the search, according to the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service.
The crew is hoping to locate the helicopter, which the Navy believes is on the seafloor approximately 4,000-6,000 feet deep, though they haven’t found it, using a shallow-water, side-scan sonar device able to search depths of 8,000 feet and a towed pinger that can track downed aircraft at more than twice that depth, Boyle added.
The crash occurred on Aug. 32 roughly 60 nautical miles off the coast, and it led to a joint Navy and Coast Guard rescue operation, which was called off when the Navy declared those on board deceased.
Lt. Bradley A. Foster, 29, a pilot from Oakhurst, California; Lt. Paul R. Fridley, 28, a pilot from Annandale, Virginia; Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class James P. Buriak, 31, from Salem, Virginia; Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Sarah F. Burns, 31, from Severna Park, Maryland; and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Bailey J. Tucker, 21, from St. Louis, Missouri, died in the accident, the Navy announced.
An investigation remains ongoing.
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Original Author: Mike Brest
Original Location: Navy begins deep-sea recovery mission for helicopter wreckage