Coast Guard to Suspend Search at Sunset for 12 Marine Aviators
The Coast Guard announced this afternoon that it will suspend its active search at sunset Tuesday for the 12 Marine aviators of Marine Corps Helicopter Squadron 463 off the North Shore of Oʻahu.
“A decision to suspend searching without finding survivors is extremely difficult given the depth of its impact and I know I speak for the entire Coast Guard when I say our thoughts and prayers are with Marine Corps helicopter squadron and particularly with families and loved ones of those missing,” said Capt. Jim Jenkins, chief of staff and acting commander, Coast Guard 14th District in an agency press release statement.
“I want to thank all our partners, the Navy, Army, the National Guard, the Hawaiʻi Fire, Police and Ocean Safety for their extraordinary professionalism. I am proud of my Coast Guard crews and most of all thank you to the Marines for your leadership and partnership during this case. I emphasize that as we suspend the search, we pass the baton to the Marine Corps for any follow on actions. We stand ready to support any future maritime operations, and we will continue to provide any comfort we can for those suffering from this terrible loss,” said Capt. Jenkins.
As of sunset Tuesday, the Coast Guard and military partners will have conducted a cumulative search effort of 40,530 sq. nautical miles.
In addition to the Coast Guard assets, there has also been an extensive shoreline search effort conducted by the Honolulu Fire and Police Departments with Ocean Safety Lifeguard Service.
More than 130 individual searches were conducted over five days, a continuous sustained search effort of 115 hours, according to Coast Guard officials.
The search stems from a notification received by the Coast Guard watchstanders in Honolulu of two Marine helicopters that crashed in waters off of the North Shore of Oʻahu on the evening of Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016.
Each helicopter reportedly carried six personnel aboard, prompting the joint search effort.
The aircraft were CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters with Marine Aircraft Group 24, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.
The Marine Corps has the lead role for any salvage and the ongoing investigation into the cause of the incident.