The Navy has identified five US sailors who died after their helicopters crashed into the Pacific Ocean 60 miles off the coast of San Diego.
The sailors have not been seen since the crash on Tuesday, while they were conducting routine flight operations from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.
The Navy declared them dead on Saturday after a days-long search and rescue operation.
They were: Lt. Bradley A. Foster, 29, a pilot from Oakhurst, California; Lt. Paul R. Fridley, 28, a pilot from Annandale, Virginia; Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class James P. Buriak, 31, from Salem, Virginia; Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Sarah F. Burns, 31, from Severna Park, Maryland and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Bailey J. Tucker, 21, from St. Louis, Missouri.
Their bodies all remain missing.
Lt. Paul R. Fridley, 28, was among the five sailors killed in a Navy helicopter crash off the coast of San Diego Tuesday
Lt. Bradley A. Foster, 29, was among the five sailors killed in a Navy helicopter crash off the coast of San Diego Tuesday
Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Sarah F. Burns, 31 (left), and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Bailey J. Tucker, 21 (right), were also among the sailors killed in Tuesday’s crash
Crewman 2nd Class James P. Buriak, 31, with his wife Megan and son Caulder
Only one crew member who was aboard the downed MH-60S helicopter has been rescued and is now in stable condition.
Five other crew members had been injured in the crash, the Navy reported, and were saved.
Two were taken back to California for hospital treatment, with the other three treated on the USS Lincoln.
‘We are deeply saddened by the loss of five Sailors and those injured following the MH-60S helicopter tragedy off the coast of Southern California,’ Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said in a statement Saturday.
The sailors were aboard an MH-60S helicopter when they crashed into the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday (file photo)
The crash on Tuesday afternoon took place some 60 nautical miles off the coast of San Diego, California
‘We stand alongside their families, loved ones, and shipmates who grieve.’
The helicopter crashed into the Pacific at around 4:30 pm local time.
As per policy, the Navy waited 24 hours after declaring the sailors dead before releasing their identity.
‘As a matter of respect for the families and in accordance with Navy policy, the identities of the Sailors will be withheld until 24 hours after their next of kin have been notified,’ Gilday said.
Earlier Saturday morning, the Navy officially pivoted from search-and-rescue attempts into a full-on recovery mission after a 72-hour period of rescue efforts, which involved five helicopters, 34 search and rescue flights with more than 170 combined flight hours.
The rescue, and later, recovery, attempts were a coordinated effort between the Coast Guard and Navy, according to the Navy.
The helicopter had been based out of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, and belongs to the Navy´s Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 8.
It was operating on the deck of the carrier before it crashed into the sea, the Navy said, but did not release further details regarding the incident.
The Abraham Lincoln had been underway in recent days conducting carrier qualifications for new F/A-18 Super Hornet and E/A A-18 pilots, according to the Navy Times.
The Nimitz class USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier is seen above in San Diego in this file photo
The MH-60S, which is used for anti-surface warfare, combat support, and humanitarian efforts, was first deployed in 2002.
It has a length of nearly 65 feet with a height of 17 feet, and a weight of 14,430 pounds while empty, and 23,500 pounds max gross.
The USS Lincoln, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, is among the largest warships in the world.
The Navy said the incident is under investigation, and a cause for the crash remains unclear.