Coast Guard Plans Suspension of Search for Missing Marines
The active search for 12 missing Marines from Marine Corps Helicopter Squadron 463 following Thursday’s crash of two CH-53E Marine helicopters off the North Shore of Oahu will be suspended, as of sunset Tuesday.
United States Coast Guard officials announced the end of search efforts Tuesday afternoon.
“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 Captain Jim Jenkins, chief of staff and acting commander of the Coast Guard’s 14th District.
“I want to thank all our partners, the Navy, Army, the National Guard, the Hawai’i 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,” Captain Jenkins said. “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.”
Coast Guard officials say that as of sunset Tuesday, the Coast Guard, along with military partners, will have concluded a total search effort of 40,530 square nautical miles. Extensive shoreline efforts were also made by Honolulu Fire and Police Departments, along with the Ocean Safety Lifeguard Service.
Over the course of the five-day search. over 130 individual searches were conducted with a continuous sustained search effort of 115 hours.
A fourth life raft was recovered from waters about three miles north of Kahuku Tuesday. According to information from the Associated Press, one of the Coast Guard Cutters was responsible for recovering the fourth raft.
Officials say there has been no indication that anyone had been aboard any of the four life rafts.
Coast Guard officials initially called the crash a collision between the two aircrafts. Marine Corps officials later said the incident continues to be investigated and it is not yet known whether or not a collision occurred.
Going forward, the Marine Corps will conduct the lead role for any salvage operations and the ongoing investigation into the cause of the incident.
Hilo-ported Coast Guard Cutter Kiska has been part of the search since Friday.