5 sailors presumed dead in Navy helicopter crash off San Diego coast, search suspended

An MH-60R Seahawk helicopter takes off of the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.
An MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter takes off of the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln on Aug. 14. A similar Navy helicopter operating from the ship crashed off the coast of San Diego on Tuesday.
(Petty Officer 2nd Class Amber Smalley/ U.S. Navy)

Five sailors who went missing after their helicopter crashed on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and fell into the sea about 60 miles off the San Diego coast earlier this week are presumed dead, the Navy said Saturday.

The announcement marks an end to the three-day search for the crew and a transition to a search and recovery operation. The Navy has not yet found the wreckage, but it is known where the MH-60S helicopter went into the water, officials said.

One of the helicopter’s crew was rescued from the water following Tuesday’s crash and is in stable condition ashore, officials said. Five Abraham Lincoln sailors were injured in the crash; two were also taken ashore for treatment.


They were in stable conditions as of Saturday, said Lt. Samuel R. Boyle, a spokesman for the Pacific fleet.

The names of the deceased are expected to be released this weekend.

The helicopter, assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 8, was conducting routine flight operations from the ship when it crashed.

The 72-hour search effort by the Navy and Coast Guard included more than 170 hours of flight time, with five search helicopters and constant surface vessel search.

The MH-60S helicopter typically carries a crew of about four and is used in missions including combat support, humanitarian disaster relief and search and rescue.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


11:43 a.m. Sept. 4, 2021: This story was updated with comments from Adm. Mike Gilday, the chief of naval operations.