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Second San Diego-Based Navy Ship Joins In Recovery Effort For AirAsia Jet

Photo credit: U.S. Navy

USS Fort Worth

A second San Diego-based Navy ship will join in the recovery effort for the AirAsia passenger jet that went missing Sunday amid stormy weather off Indonesia, the Pentagon announced Tuesday.

The USS Fort Worth joins the USS Sampson, which was tapped on Monday to help look for the Airbus A-320. It was carrying 162 passengers when it disappeared from radar screens minutes after the pilot requested an altitude change because of the weather conditions.

The aircraft was a little over 40 minutes into a flight to Singapore from Surabaya, Indonesia's second-largest city.

The pilot's request for a change in altitude was denied because six other airplanes were in the area at higher flight levels. No other communications were heard, according to news reports.

Earlier Tuesday, authorities announced that some bodies and debris from the jet were found at sea — turning the mission from a rescue effort to a recovery one.

The Navy said it was Indonesian authorities who requested assistance.

The 509-foot Sampson, which left San Diego Oct. 31 on an independent deployment, is a destroyer carrying a detachment from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 35, based at Naval Air Station North Island.

The 387-foot Fort Worth is one of the Navy's new littoral combat ships, which are designed for agility. It departed San Diego on Nov. 17 for its first deployment, a 16-month assignment in Southeast Asia. At the time, Navy officials said the maiden deployment would include the first use of a drone helicopter aboard a deployed littoral combat ship. Besides the MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter, the Fort Worth carries one MH-60R Seahawk chopper.

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