East Hawaii News

Search Efforts Recover Life Rafts, No Marines

January 18, 2016, 4:33 PM HST
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United States Coast Guard courtesy photo.

United States Coast Guard courtesy photo.

The United States Coast Guard, along with partnering agencies, have continued their search into its fourth day for 12 Marine aviators that were onboard two CH-53E Marine helicopters that collided late Thursday night off the North Shore of Oahu.

Hilo home-ported Coast Guard cutter Kiska remains part of the surface search for sign of survivors and in the cataloging of debris.

Coast Guard officials say that the search remains active with air, surface, and shoreline assets.

All four confirmed life rafts to have been on board the two aircrafts have been sighted, with three recovered. The forth life raft was sighted Sunday evening North of Kahuku by a civilian. Officials say two assets are working on the recovery of that life raft.

According to the Coast Guard, there is no indication from the sightings that any survivors have been aboard any of the life rafts.

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A Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane crew, MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew, a Navy warship, and the Coast Guard cutter Kiska searched overnight Sunday. On Monday morning, various other assets joined rejoined the search, including:

  • Navy P-3 Orion (Air)
  • Honolulu Fire Department helicopter (Air)
  • Honolulu Police Department helicopter (Air)
  • USNS Salvor, safeguard-class salvage ship, supporting Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1 (Surface)
  • Coast Guard cutter Ahi (Surface)
  • Two Ocean Safety jet ski teams (Surface)
  • 65 Marines comprising shoreline search teams (Shoreline)
  • Incident Command Post team Honolulu (Shoreline)
  • Incident Command Post team Haleiwa (Shoreline)
  • Hawai’i Army National Guard (Shoreline)
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Coast Guard officials say that as of 8 a.m. Monday, a total of 89 searches covering 21,000 square nautical miles had been conducted. The searches have been layered on top of each other to ensure multiple perspectives and fresh eyes.

Underwater efforts have begun to take place. The USNS Salvor arrived on scene late Sunday from Pearl Harbor to support the Navy Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1’s efforts to conduct underwater search of the last known position of the aircraft off Haleiwa with sonar and a remotely operated vehicle.

Searches on Sunday did not turn up any debris. Search and rescue planners can use information from anything located in the search to analyze factors and conditions, allowing the ability to narrow down the search area and maximize the offs of locating missing Marines.

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“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 Lieutenant 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.”

On Monday, weather conditions included 11 mph winds with ocean conditions of up to two feet with swells up to eight feet.

The National Weather Service’s high surf warning remains in effort for the North Shore of Oahu.

Marine Corps. officials are investigating the incident.

On Sunday, the Marines officially released the identity of the 12 Marines involved in Thursday’s helicopter collision:

  • Major Shawn M. Campbell, 41, College Station, Texas.
  • Captain Brian T. Kennedy, 31, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • Captain Kevin T. Roche, 30, St. Louis, Missouri.
  • Captain Steven R. Torbert, 29, Florence, Alabama.
  • Sergeant Dillon J. Semolina, 24, Chaska, Minnesota.
  • Sergeant Adam C. Schoeller, 25, Gardners, Pennsylvania.
  • Sergeant Jeffrey A. Sempler, 22, Woodruff, South Carolina.
  • Sergeant William J. Turner, 25, Florala, Alabama.
  • Corporal Matthew R. Drown, 23, Spring, Texas.
  • Corporal Thomas J. Jardas, 22, Fort Myers, Florida.
  • Corporal Christopher J. Orlando, 23, Hingham, Massachusetts.
  • Lance Cpl. Ty L. Hart, 21, Aumsville, Oregon.

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