Responders continue search Sunday for missing Army aviators off Ka’ena Point

Coast Guard Cutter Walnut file photo by Air Station Barbers Point

Coast Guard Cutter Walnut file photo by Air Station Barbers Point

HONOLULU — Responders searched throughout the night Saturday and are continuing the search Sunday for the five Army aviators who went missing Tuesday night approximately two miles west of Ka’ena Point.

Searching are:

* Coast Guard Cutter Walnut (WLB 205) and crew from Honolulu
* Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island (WPB 1349) and crew from Honolulu
* Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Air Station Barbers Point
* Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point
* Navy P-3 Orion aircrew from Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay
* UH-60 Black Hawk from Wheeler Army Airfield
* Coast Guard 45-foot Response Boat-Medium Station Honolulu
* Coast Guard 45-foot Response Boat-Medium Station Kauai
* Shore patrols and a helicopter crew from Honolulu Fire Department
* Shore patrols from Kauai Fire Department
* Crews from Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services
* Crew from the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources
* Shore patrols from the Army and Coast Guard Sector Honolulu

Search and rescue planners have also reached out to the residents of Ni’ihau Island to conduct searches along their shoreline.

The search area extends southwest beyond Ni’ihau Island having continued to expand since the incident due to the currents and swells in the area. Fixed-wing aviation assets and the Galveston Island are searching the leading edge southwest of Ni’ihau while the helicopters and Walnut are continuing to concentrate efforts roughly 35 miles offshore of Ka’ena Point. Shoreline crews are active along the north and west shores of Ka’ena Point to and along the southern shore of Kauai.

By Sunday afternoon, responders will have conducted 113 separate sorties/searches. At that time the effort will cover more than 68,000 square nautical miles (90,000 square statute miles).

None of the aviators have been located yet. No further debris has been recovered. Personnel continue to coordinate efforts at the joint forward operating base at Hale’iwa Boat Harbor.

The safety zone remains in effect extending out in a five nautical mile (5.75 statute miles) radius from the point 21-27.919N 158-21.547W, geographically located roughly two miles northwest of Ka’ena Point, established by the Coast Guard Captain of the Port Wednesday. No vessels or persons are authorized to enter this zone without prior approval from the Captain of the Port. A broadcast notice to mariners has been issued. Ka’ena State Park trails remain closed at this time.

Those who see or encounter debris consistent with this type of aircraft at sea or on any of the island shores are asked to report it to responders by calling the 25th Combat Infantry Brigade Staff Duty Officer at 808-656-1080 and not to try to collect it themselves.

The search began late Tuesday following notification to the Coast Guard from personnel at Wheeler Army Airfield stating they lost communication with one of their UH-60 Black Hawk aircrews. The missing aircrew was reportedly engaged in night time training operations between Ka’ena Point and Dillingham Airfield.

Weather on scene is reportedly 17 mph winds, seas 2 to 4 feet and isolated showers. Visibility continues to be good. A slight chance of thunderstorms exists for Sunday night.

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