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Sat, May 23, 2009

Navy Deploys Extensive Resources In Search for Downed Helo

Three mine countermeasure ships, USS Champion (MCM 4), USS Devastator (MCM 6) and USS Pioneer (MCM 9) participated in Navy search efforts May 21 for the HH-60 Seahawk helicopter that went down May 19 off the coast of Southern California and Mexico.

Pioneer has been tasked to remain on station to continue search efforts Friday using its variable-depth sonar and mine-neutralization vehicle (MNV) with attached camera system. Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 1 also continues its search with unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) using their side-scan sonar.

Sonar is one of the best technologies for mapping the sea floor and detecting man-made material in an underwater environment. Yesterday officials concluded that aircrew survivability was unlikely and suspended search and rescue efforts. The U.S. Navy's search efforts now focus on determining the feasibility of salvage operations.

Champion and Devastator will arrive in port at Naval Station San Diego as scheduled with Pioneer arriving later in the day.

Three deceased crewmembers were recovered from the crash site on Wednesday during search and rescue operations conducted by assets from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, San Diego Harbor Police, Customs and Border Protection and the Mexican Navy. There were five crewmembers on board the HH-60 conducting combat search and rescue training.

The HH-60 Seahawk helicopter went down while conducting training operations with USS Nimitz (CVN 68) during a composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX). The helicopter was from Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron (HS) 6 located in San Diego. HS-6 is part of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 assigned to the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group (CSG). The Navy is investigating the cause of the incident.

FMI: www.navy.mil

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