A ship typically used for submarine recovery is now searching for a Navy helicopter that fell overboard from the USS Abraham Lincoln on August 31, along with two pilots, two corps and a naval aircrew still on board.
The HOS Dominator arrived at the location where the helicopter was last seen about 60 miles southeast of San Diego late Wednesday, September 15, and immediately began recovery efforts, including using a scanner. sonar known as SWISS and a towed pinger locator, Marine Lieutenant Samuel. Boyle said.
The wreckage of the MH-60 Sierra helicopter and the remains of the five sailors are estimated at an ocean depth of between 4,000 and 6,000 feet.
In March, the Navy recovered a downed helicopter to a depth of 19,075 feet off Okinawa, Japan. The twin-engine Sikorsky Seahawk crashed in the Pacific Ocean last year while operating from the USS Blue Ridge. The crew was able to escape before she sank.
Efforts to retrieve the helicopter overboard from the USS Abraham Lincoln will continue until the wreckage is found, Boyle said. Then a second vessel operating with a large crane will help with the recovery.
The helicopter became unbalanced and went overboard at 4:30 p.m. on August 31. A crew member was recovered from the water around 10:30 a.m. that night, and five other sailors working on the ship’s deck were injured. All six are in stable condition, Boyle said.
An investigation into the causes of the accident is underway.
Navy and Coast Guard ships and planes searched the area after the helicopter sank for about 72 hours before search and rescue turned into a recovery effort. The five sailors were presumed dead and identified. All five were from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 8 based out of North Island, San Diego.
Those on board the helicopter were Lieutenant Bradley A. Foster, 29, an Oakhurst pilot; Lieutenant Paul R. Fridley, 28, a pilot from Annandale, Va .; Naval Air Crewman (helicopter) 2nd Class James P. Buriak, 31, of Salem, Va .; Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Sarah F. Burns, 31, of Severna Park, Md.; and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Bailey J. Tucker, 21, of St. Louis, Mo.
The Abraham Lincoln is now back at the Port of San Diego. The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier was preparing for deployment next year.