The U.S. Navy’s rescue mission, following the helicopter crash that took place off the coast of southern California last week, has now tragically turned into a recovery mission.
According to the Washington Examiner, the U.S. Navy has now declared the five missing sailors from the horrific crash to be deceased.
The helicopter crash occurred on Aug. 31, and according to reports, it happened roughly 60 nautical miles off of the coast of San Diego, California.
According to the Navy, “the helicopter was conducting routine flight operations from USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) when it crashed into the sea.”
Additional information regarding the circumstances that led to the crash has not been made public. Navy officials have stated that an investigation into the matter is underway.
There were at least 10 sailors involved in the tragic accident. Five of them were declared missing, while the other five suffered injuries but were able to be rescued. Two of those who were rescued had to be transported back to the mainland for medical treatment.
The Navy immediately commenced a search and rescue mission for the five missing sailors. The Navy reported that it conducted “72 hours of coordinated rescue efforts encompassing 34 search and rescue flights, over 170 hours of flight time, with 5 search helicopters and constant surface vessel search.”
Unfortunately, though, the Navy was ultimately not able to locate the missing sailors. Given the amount of time that has passed since the incident, the Navy has changed the search and rescue mission to a recovery mission instead.
According to The Hill, the deceased sailors were identified as Lt. Bradley A. Foster, 29; Lt. Paul R. Fridley, 28; Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class James P. Buriak, 31; Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Sarah F. Burns, 31; and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Bailey J. Tucker, 21.
Several statements have been released in response to the Navy’s latest announcement, with one of the statements coming from Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of five Sailors and those injured following the MH-60S helicopter tragedy off the coast of Southern California,” he said. “We stand alongside their families, loved ones, and shipmates who grieve.”
The USS Lincoln released a statement of its own, writing, “Moving forward, we will continue to honor their service and legacy in everything we do, and hope you join us in this mission. We thank you all for your continued support, thoughts and prayers as this transition is incredibly difficult on all of us.”