Navy Continues Search For 5 Sailors After Helicopter Crash Off San Diego Coast
UPDATE: 4:54 p.m., Sept. 1, 2021
The Navy is still searching for five crew members after a helicopter from the USS Abraham Lincoln crashed in the waters off of San Diego.
The accident happened around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. An MH-60S helicopter was operating on the deck of the carrier when it crashed into the sea, roughly 60 miles off the coast of San Diego.
One sailor was recovered. The Navy and Coast Guard spent Wednesday searching for five other crew members. Another five sailors were injured on board the USS Lincoln. Two of them were flown ashore for treatment and are listed in stable condition, as was the sailor rescued from the ocean, according to the US Navy Third Fleet.
The statement did not say how the crash happened but the fact that sailors aboard the carrier were injured raised questions about whether the helicopter or parts of it hit the Lincoln. When helicopters take off and land on the ship, there are ground crews present on the carrier nearby and other people working on deck.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin acknowledged the accident.
"I know the Navy is working diligently at search and rescue operations,” he said. “On behalf of the whole department, I want to pass on our thoughts and prayers for the best possible outcome."
The crash happened while the helicopter was conducting what the Navy described only as routine flight operations.
The Coast Guard was helping the Navy search for the sailors in the chilly waters, according to the Navy.
The MH-60S helicopter typically carries a crew of about four and is used in missions including combat support, humanitarian disaster relief and search and rescue.
Since 2018, the Navy has had at least four crashes involving versions of the MH-60. The Sikorsky helicopters have been in service since 2003 and are a workhorse of naval aviation, with more than 200 in service. The version fitted for sea duty is called SeaHawk.
In July, one of the helicopters, which is fitted for air rescue, crashed near Mount Hogue, California in the Sierra Nevada. The Navy crew was from Fallon Naval Air Station in Nevada. They were not injured but they could not be recovered until the following day.
In 2020, a Seahawk from the USS Blue Ridge crashed in the Philippine Sea. Five sailors were rescued from the water. In 2018, 12 sailors were injured when a Seahawk assigned to the carrier USS Ronald Reagan, crashed just after takeoff.
The aircraft belongs to the Navy's Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 8 and the Navy is investigating the cause of the crash.