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AirAsia Search Ends For San Diego Ships USS Sampson and USS Fort Worth

Fuselage of AirAsia Flight 8501
Republic of Singapore Navy/Facebook
Fuselage of AirAsia Flight 8501

As news comes that Indonesian navy divers have discovered the fuselage of AirAsia Flight 8501, so does the announcement that the USS Sampson and USS Fort Worth have concluded their participation in the search effort.

According to the U.S. Navy, the San Diego-based ships spent more than 650 search hours in the hunt for wreckage and bodies from the plane, which crashed into the Java Sea on Dec. 28:

The two MH-60R helicopters aboard Sampson and one MH-60R aboard Fort Worth worked together and with Indonesian aircraft to conduct both day and night operations.

In total, the U.S. Navy aircraft flew 226 hours and covered 22,000 square nautical miles.
As Home Post reported earlier, the USS Fort Worth arrived in the search area on Jan. 3. The littoral combat ship joined the USS Sampson, which had been part of the search for AirAsia Flight 8501 since Dec. 29.

The Washington Post reported last week on the USS Fort Worth sailors' use of the tow fish sonar system on Jan. 4:

The Tow Fish, shaped like a torpedo, is designed to map the bottom of the ocean, which should help determine where wreckage from the airliner is.

As the U.S. Navy announced the end of its participation in the AirAsia search effort, U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Robert O. Blake released a statement that read, in part:

"I commend the professionalism and dedication to the mission the sailors of the United States Navy exhibited while working in close coordination with their Indonesian counterparts...

"The United States offers condolences to the families and loved ones of those who perished on Indonesia Air Asia Flight 8501. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who await news on the passengers and crew who remain missing."
What's next for the USS Sampson? The ship will continue its deployment in the 7th Fleet area of operations, according to the U.S. Navy. The USS Fort Worth is headed back to Singapore for scheduled maintenance.