Coast Guard suspends search for downed aircraft near Jamaica

MIAMI – The Coast Guard suspended their search Sunday at approximately 11 a.m. for two possible survivors of a plane in the water 14 miles north of Port Antonio, Jamaica, Friday.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard 7th District command center in Miami received a call from U.S. Northern Command at 11 a.m. reporting that a Socata TBM 700 light business and utility single engine turboprop aircraft departed Rochester, New York at 8:26 a.m. with two people aboard who were reportedly unresponsive to radio calls. The plane was scheduled to arrive in Naples, Florida at noon, Friday.

A Coast Guard C-130 aircrew was launched from Clearwater, Florida to help monitor the unresponsive aircraft. Two F-15 fighter jets under the direction of North American Aerospace Defense Command were launched to investigate. The Coast Guard Cutter Bernard C. Webber and a Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew deployed to the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC), were also diverted to assist in the search.

The C-130 aircrew arrived on scene and located several small objects in the water. The aircrew deployed three smoke flares and two data marker buoys to mark the location for Jamaican Defense Force boat crews.

A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter along with the cutter Webber and Jamaican Defense Force crews searched through the day on Saturday, but were unable to relocate the debris field.

“Our deepest sympathy goes out to the family of the two missing people; the Coast Guard suspends a search and rescue case with extremely great care and deliberation,” said Capt. Todd M. Coggeshall, chief of response management. “After a search area is saturated several times with a maximum number of assets, resources and crew effort, and persons in distress are still not located, a decision is made to suspend a case.”

Searches were conducted by Coast Guard crews of:

  • Coast Guard Cutter Bernard C. Webber is a 154-foot fast response cutter, homeported in Miami.
  • Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater.
  • Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter from Great Inagua, Bahamas.
  • Search crews completed 12 search patterns covering approximately 3,750 square miles over a 70 hour period.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard 7th District continue to assist with monitoring the search patterns for the Jamaican Defense Force.

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