Navy declares 5 missing sailors dead after helicopter crash

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The Navy and Coast Guard carried out an extensive search for 72 hours.

The U.S. Navy has declared five sailors dead after they went missing following the crash of their helicopter off the coast of southern California on Tuesday.

“U.S. 3rd Fleet has shifted from search and rescue efforts to recovery operations, Sept. 4,” according to a statement.

The helicopter, based on the USS Abraham Lincoln, was conducting routine flight operations aboard the carrier when it crashed into the sea approximately 60 nautical miles off the coast of San Diego at 4:30 p.m. PDT on Tuesday.

A sailor aboard the helicopter was rescued shortly after the crash and three others who had been on the carrier’s deck were found injured. But five soldiers remained unaccounted for.

Over the next 72 hours, Navy and Coast Guard ships and helicopters carried out extensive flight and sea operations in search of the five missing sailors.

“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,” Adm. Mike Gilday, the chief of Naval Operations, said in a statement. “We stand alongside their families, loved ones, and shipmates who grieve.”

The Navy said the crash is under investigation and that the names of the five sailors will be made public 24 hours after the last notification was made to families.