Recovery Enters 4th Day at Site of Downed Military Helicopters
The Coast Guard is conducting a fourth day of searching for 12 Marine aviators off the North Shore of Oʻahu after two CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters crashed in waters off of Waimea Bay on the evening of Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016.
The US Marine Corps has since identified the 12 Marines who range in age from 21 to 41, and hail from 9 states across the US. The list includes:
- Maj. Shawn M. Campbell, 41, College Station, Texas.
- Capt. Brian T. Kennedy, 31, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- Capt. Kevin T. Roche, 30, St. Louis, Missouri.
- Capt. Steven R. Torbert, 29, Florence, Alabama.
- Sgt. Dillon J. Semolina, 24,Chaska, Minnesota.
- Sgt. Adam C. Schoeller, 25, Gardners, Pennsylvania.
- Sgt. Jeffrey A. Sempler, 22, Woodruff, South Carolina.
- Sgt. William J. Turner, 25, Florala, Alabama.
- Cpl. Matthew R. Drown, 23, Spring, Texas.
- Cpl. Thomas J. Jardas, 22, Fort Myers, Florida.
- Cpl. Christopher J. Orlando, 23, Hingham, Massachusetts.
- Lance Cpl. Ty L. Hart, 21, Aumsville, Oregon.
The search effort so far has covered 21,000 square nautical miles. Officials from the Coast Guard say all four life rafts confirmed to be aboard the helicopters have been sighted and three have been recovered. Crews are working today to recover the final raft sighted Sunday evening north of Kahuku by a Good Samaritan.
Authorities say there is no indication from the sightings that any survivors have been aboard any of the life rafts.
Efforts today include shoreline searches by 65 Marines, as well as air and sea searches being conducted by supporting agencies.
The salvage ship from the Military Sealift Command, arrived on scene late Sunday from Pearl Harbor to support the underwater search efforts at the last know position of the aircraft off Haleiwa. Crews are using sonar and a remotely operated vehicle to assist in narrowing the search area, and maximize the odds of locating the missing Marines.
On Sunday night a Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane crew, an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew, the Navy warship and the Coast Guard Cutter Kiska searched. Assets on scene today include:
- MH-65 Dolphin helicopter
- Navy P-3 Orion
- Honolulu Fire Department helicopter
- Honolulu Police Department helicopter
- 1 Navy warship
- USNS Salvor, safeguard-class salvage ship, supporting Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1
- Coast Guard Cutters Kiska and Ahi
- 2 Ocean Safety jet ski teams
- 65 Marines comprising shoreline search teams
- Incident Command Post team Honolulu
- Incident Command Post team Haleiwa
- Hawaii Army National Guard
“Today our country celebrates Martin Luther King. Jr. who once said ‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others.’ As we enter the fourth day of around the clock operations I would submit the men and women responding to this search effort are truly answering Dr. King’s question,” said Lt. Scott Carr, Coast Guard 14th District public affairs officer. “Our focus is to locate these Marines and know with absolute certainty we’ve thoroughly canvassed every location we might find them.”
Weather conditions Monday are reportedly 11 mph winds, with seas up to 2 feet and swells of 8 feet. A high surf warning issued by the National Weather Service remains in effect for the North Shore of Oʻahu.
The public is being advised to use caution along the north and west shores of Oʻahu as the search continues. They are also advised that debris should be treated as hazardous material and reported to the Marines.
The cause of the accident is under investigation by the Marine Corps.