Five Sailors Still Missing After Helicopter Mishap Off San Diego

An MH-60S Seahawk helicopter lifts off
An MH-60S Seahawk helicopter lifts off from the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, May 24, 2012. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tim D. Godbee)

Search efforts Wednesday afternoon had so far failed to find five U.S. sailors who were lost nearly a day before off the coast of San Diego when a helicopter fell off an aircraft carrier into the sea, according to the Navy.

One sailor who was aboard the helicopter was rescued and taken ashore in stable condition, the Navy Third Fleet said in the Facebook update Wednesday.

Lt. Sam Boyle, a Navy spokesman, declined to say what caused the MH-60S Seahawk to fall from the ship’s flight deck, citing an ongoing investigation. The incident occurred at about 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday when the helicopter was involved in what the Navy said were routine operations on the USS Abraham Lincoln about 60 nautical miles off the coast.

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A spokesman for the Coast Guard confirmed that one of its helicopters was also assisting in the search and rescue effort, which kicked off immediately Tuesday with units from the aircraft carrier and the USS Cincinnati, a littoral combat ship, Boyle said.

Another Facebook post on the incident said that the mishap also left five sailors from the Abraham Lincoln injured but in stable condition. Two were taken ashore for treatment while the other three “had minimal injuries,” the update said.

The Navy said “all affected family members have been notified” following the incident Tuesday.

The Abraham Lincoln just completed the Navy’s largest shipyard period in April that was aimed at extending the life of the 33-year-old ship.

-- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.

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