Search for Sailor Missing Off California Coast Now in 3rd Day

The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) pulls into Osaka for a port visit. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mackenzie P. Adams)
The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) pulls into Osaka for a port visit. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mackenzie P. Adams)

A search-and-rescue mission for a sailor who failed to report for duty aboard the guided-missile cruiser Lake Erie on Sunday will continue throughout the day Tuesday.

Military personnel have combed nearly 5,000 square miles off the coast of California in search for the sailor, who was reported missing at about 7 a.m. on Sunday.

The crew conducted man-overboard procedures while operating in the eastern Pacific Ocean with the John C. Stennis Carrier Group Strike Group after attempts to locate the sailor aboard the ship were unsuccessful, Navy officials said in a news release.

The name of the sailor has not been released. Next-of-kin have been notified, the release states.

The Coast Guard, which took the lead on the search-and-rescue mission mid-morning Sunday, dispatched an MH-60T Jayhawk recovery helicopter and C-27J surveillance aircraft. Ships assigned to the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group are also involved in the search.

The Coast Guard aircraft were out over the ocean looking for the sailor again Tuesday morning, Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Kroll, a spokesman for the Coast Guard's California-based District 11, told Military.com.

"We plan to keep searching throughout the day," he said. "... The water temperature is pretty warm out there right now. As far as hypothermia is concerned, there's a really good probability that hasn't set in."

Aside from water temperature, the Coast Guard takes in a host of factors when assessing chances of survival for someone who might be lost at sea. Fatigue can set in if someone isn't able to find something to float on, Kroll said. They also look carefully at currents and winds to ensure they're looking in the right place, he added.

Crews in search-and-rescue aircraft like the Jayhawk and C-27 are trained to spot objects in the water from different altitudes.

"When it's daytime and the seas are relatively calm, you'd be surprised how much you can pick up," said Kroll, who's also a career helicopter pilot. "The helicopter can target a more confined area a lot more closely. The C-27 fixed-wing assets can cover a larger area -- and do it a lot faster."

--Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ginaaharkins.

Show Full Article