Navy recovers helicopter and crew remains from crash off San Diego

MH-60R Seahawk helicopter
An MH-60R Seahawk helicopter takes off from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln. A similar Navy helicopter operating from the ship crashed off the coast of San Diego on Aug. 31.
(Petty Officer 2nd Class Amber Smalley / U.S. Navy)

A Navy salvage and diving team has recovered the wreckage of a helicopter and the remains of five sailors who were killed in an August crash about 60 miles off the San Diego coast, the Navy said Tuesday.

The salvage team, working from the merchant vessel Bayou, brought the wreckage of the aircraft and the remains of its crew up from a depth of about one mile on Friday, the Navy said. The remains of the sailors were flown to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware for identification.

The helicopter, an MH-60S Seahawk from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 8, was conducting routine flight operations off the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln on Aug. 31. According to the Navy Safety Center, the helicopter started vibrating side-to-side upon landing on the ship’s flight deck. As a result, the helicopter’s rotor struck the flight deck and the aircraft crashed over the side of the ship.


One member of the helicopter’s six-person crew survived and was rescued from the water that day. Five Abraham Lincoln sailors were also injured.

The Navy searched for the rest of the aircraft’s crew for three days before declaring them dead. Two weeks later, the service began its underwater search and recovery mission.

The sailors killed in the crash were:

  • Lt. Bradley Foster, 29, from Oakhurst, Calif.
  • Lt. Paul Fridley, 28, from Annandale, Va.
  • Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class James Buriak, 31, from Salem, Va.
  • Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Sarah Burns, 31, from Severna Park, Md.
  • Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Bailey Tucker, 21, from St. Louis.

An investigation into the crash is ongoing, the Navy said.

Both the Abraham Lincoln and HSC-8 are based at Naval Air Station North Island.