Coast Guard, partner agencies enter third day of search for 12 marine aviators off North Shore

The crew of a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter (CG 6608) from Air Station Barbers Point conducts a brief prior to take off Jan. 17, 2016. The Dolphin crew relieved the night crew to conduct daytime searches for 12 Marine aviators off the North Shore of Oahu. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Sarah Bradley/Released)

The crew of a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter (CG 6608) from Air Station Barbers Point conducts a brief prior to take off Jan. 17, 2016. The Dolphin crew relieved the night crew to conduct daytime searches for 12 Marine aviators off the North Shore of Oahu. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Sarah Bradley/Released)

HONOLULU — Search efforts continue Sunday for 12 missing Marine aviators off the North Shore of Oahu.

Over Saturday night a Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane crew, the Navy warships and the Coast Guard Cutter Kiska searched. On scene today are:

Aircraft:
Surface assets:
Shoreline:
  • MH-65 Dolphin helicopter
  • Navy P-3 Orion
  • Navy H-60 helicopter
  • Army H-60 helicopter
  • Honolulu Fire Department helicopter
  • Honolulu Police Department helicopter
  • (1) Navy warships
  • Coast Guard Cutter Kiska
  • (2) Ocean Safety jet ski teams
  • (65) Marines comprising shoreline search teams
  • Incident Command Post team Honolulu
  • Incident Command Post team Haleiwa
    MSST Safety and Security Team 91107

Once current searches are completed around 6 p.m. responders will have conducted 78 individual searches contributing to the overall search effort of more than 15,956 sq. nautical miles (18,349 sq. miles).

A Navy ship equipped with sonar will arrive on scene today to conduct an underwater search of the area around the last known position of the helicopters off Haleiwa. Anything located in this search can assist search and rescue planners with their analysis of factors and conditions, allowing them to narrow down the search area and maximize the odds of locating the missing Marines.

“Coast Guard search and rescue planners use software and modeling to assist in identifying the most promising search areas. When looking for someone in the water, whether they are in the water on their own, have flotation or are in a life raft significantly affects where currents can carry them and where we should direct our search. The ocean around Hawaii can also be unpredictable, so the Coast Guard uses Self Locating Datum Marker Buoys placed in the currents we are dealing with to more accurately model the conditions,” said Lt. Scott Carr, Coast Guard 14th District public affairs officer.

Weather conditions Sunday are reportedly 12 mph winds, with swells of 9 to 10 feet. A small craft advisory issued by the National Weather Service remains in effect for the North Shore of Oahu as well as a high surf warning.

The Coast Guard Hercules crew engaged in the search Saturday night was struck by a green laser off Haleiwa Beach Park. The crew was not directly exposed and did not need to land, however, they were forced to alter their search pattern to minimize the chances of being struck again and exposed.

During nighttime missions, laser beams can cause temporary loss of night vision, glaring and flash blindness, putting the crew members’ lives in jeopardy. Targeting a laser at an aircraft is illegal, and the FAA can impose a maximum civil penalty of $11,000 on an individual for each violation of regulations that prohibit interfering with flight crews.

The public is reminded to use caution along the north and west shores of Oahu as the search continues. Debris should be treated as hazardous material and reported to the Marines at 808-257-8458 or 808-257-3023.

The cause of the accident is under investigation by the Marine Corps.

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