In a statement on Saturday, the fleet said it had “switched from search and rescue efforts to recovery operations” after the MH-60S helicopter crashed in the Pacific on August 31.
The move comes after more than 72 hours of rescue efforts involving 34 search and rescue flights and at least 170 flight hours involving five search helicopters and a constant search for surface vessels, the statement said.
The helicopter took off from the USS Abraham Lincoln and crashed into the ocean Tuesday afternoon while “performing routine flight operations about 60 nautical miles off the coast of San Diego,” said the fleet.
“Out of respect for families and in accordance with Navy policy, the identity of sailors will be withheld for up to 24 hours after their next of kin have been informed. “
The U.S. Navy has declared all five of the crew members missing from this week’s MH-60S helicopter crash in the Pacific as dead and has moved from search and rescue efforts to recovery operations today. (1/2)
– US Pacific Fleet (@USPacificFleet) September 4, 2021
On Tuesday, five other sailors were also injured aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. They were in stable conditions on Saturday, said Lt. Samuel R Boyle, spokesperson for the Pacific Fleet.
An investigation into the cause of the crash is continuing, but the fact that sailors aboard the aircraft carrier were injured has raised questions as to whether the helicopter or parts of it struck the Lincoln.
When the helicopters take off and land on the ship, ground crews are on the nearby aircraft carrier and other people are working on the deck.
The MH-60S helicopter typically carries a crew of around four and is used in missions such as combat support, humanitarian disaster relief, and search and rescue.