Coast Guard Pauses Search Flights for Missing Helicopter Crew as the Navy Offers No Updates

An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter flies near the USS Harry S. Truman
An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter flies near the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Scott Swofford)

The U.S. Coast Guard on Thursday called off its search for five missing crew members from a helicopter that fell off an aircraft carrier into the sea, while the Navy continued its search efforts as of Friday.

The incident occurred at about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday when an MH-60S Seahawk belonging to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 8, based at Naval Air Station North Island, California, was conducting routine operations on the USS Abraham Lincoln about 60 nautical miles off the coast of San Diego. Something caused the helicopter to fall off the deck of the ship and plummet into the water.

On Wednesday, Lt. Sam Boyle, a Navy spokesman, declined to say what may have caused the accident, citing an ongoing investigation.

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Hours after the incident, the service announced that one of the helicopter's crew members had been rescued. But since Wednesday morning, the Navy's Third Fleet has offered no new details on the incident except to say "search and rescue efforts are ongoing for the five crewmembers."

A spokesman for the Coast Guard's 11th District in San Diego confirmed that the service had suspended search efforts Thursday morning.

The squadron the helicopter belonged to said "all affected family members have been notified" following the incident Tuesday. As of early Friday afternoon, the Navy had not released any information regarding the missing crew members.

In addition to the missing helicopter crew, the incident injured five sailors aboard the aircraft carrier. Two were taken ashore for treatment while the other three "had minimal injuries," the Navy said Wednesday.

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

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