US Navy declares sailors deceased days after helicopter incident; rescue shifts to recovery

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The sailors (not pictured) were conducting routine flight operations when the helicopter crashed into the sea on Tuesday. Rescue efforts officially shifted to recovery as of Sept. 4, the Navy’s Pacific Fleet announced. (File/U.S. Navy)

(NEXSTAR) – The U.S. Navy on Saturday has declared five missing sailors dead after an incident off the coast of San Diego on Tuesday.

Rescue efforts officially shifted to recovery as of Sept. 4, the Navy’s Pacific Fleet announced Saturday.

The MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter was said to be conducting routine flight operations, operating from the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, when it crashed into the sea about 60 miles off the coast on Tuesday afternoon, the Navy said. One sailor was rescued from the helicopter and brought ashore in stable condition; search and rescue efforts commenced for the remaining five.

An additional five sailors on the USS Abraham Lincoln were said to have suffered injuries during the incident, prompting speculation as to whether parts of the helicopter hit the carrier. Two of the injured sailors were transported to the shore for medical treatment.

The Navy says an investigation into the cause of the crash is still ongoing.

In its news release on Saturday, the U.S. Pacific Fleet said it shifted its to recovery efforts after 72 hours of coordinated rescue efforts between the Navy and Coast Guard. There had also been a total of 34 search and rescue flights, with a combined 170 hours of flight time, along with “constant” search from vessels on the surface.

The U.S. Pacific Fleet is withholding the names of the deceased until 24 hours after the sailors’ next of kin have been identified, out of respect.

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