Search continues for missing Army aviators off Oahu

Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island file photo by Air Station Barbers Point

Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island file photo by Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point

HONOLULU — Responders searched throughout the night and are continuing the search Saturday for five missing Army aviators from a downed Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter 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
* Navy MH-60 Seahawk helicopter crew from Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay
* Coast Guard 45-foot Response Boat-Medium Station Honolulu
* Coast Guard 45-foot Response Boat-Medium Station Kauai
* Two UH-60 Black Hawk from Wheeler Army Airfield
* CH-47 Chinook helicopter aircrew from Wheeler Army Airfield
* 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

The search area is as much as 160 miles offshore from Ka’ena point 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 Kauai while the helicopters and Walnut are concentrating efforts roughly 35 miles offshore of Ka’ena Point. Shoreline crews are active along the north shore of Ka’ena Point to Dillingham and along the southern shore of Kauai.

By Saturday afternoon, responders will have conducted 75 separate sorties/searches. At that time the effort will cover 46,164 square nautical miles (61,135 square miles).

None of the aviators have been located yet. Small debris continues to be spotted and recovered along the shore off Ka’ena Point by responders. No debris was recovered at sea Friday. 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 statue 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.

Debris from the crash should be considered hazardous material and should only be recovered by recovery teams with the proper training and personal protective equipment. The debris poses potential risk and could cause serious bodily harm due to sharp edges. Those who see or encounter debris consistent with this type of aircraft along the north and west side of Oahu are asked to report it to responders by calling the 25th Combat Infantry Brigade Staff Duty Officer at 808-656-1080.

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 to 4-feet and isolated showers. Visibility continues to be good.

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