Decision to End Search for Marines “Extremely Difficult”

The Coast Guard will suspend the active search at sunset Tuesday for the 12 Marine aviators of Marine Corps Helicopter Squadron 463 off the North Shore of Oahu.

marine search

“A decision to suspend searching without finding survivors is extremely difficult given the depth of its impact and I know I speak for the entire Coast Guard when I say our thoughts and prayers are with Marine Corps helicopter squadron and particularly with families and loved ones of those missing,” said Capt. Jim Jenkins, chief of staff and acting commander, Coast Guard 14th District. “I want to thank all our partners, the Navy, Army, the National Guard, the Hawaii Fire, Police and Ocean Safety for their extraordinary professionalism. I am proud of my Coast Guard crews and most of all thank you to the Marines for your leadership and partnership during this case. I emphasize that as we suspend the search, we pass the baton to the Marine Corps for any follow on actions. We stand ready to support any future maritime operations, and we will continue to provide any comfort we can for those suffering from this terrible loss.”

As of sunset Tuesday, the Coast Guard and military partners will have conducted a cumulative search effort of 40,530 sq. nautical miles, plus the extensive shoreline effort by the Honolulu Fire and Police Departments with Ocean Safety Lifeguard Service. More than 130 individual searches were conducted over five days, a continuous sustained search effort of 115 hours.

Involved in the search were:

Surface assets:
MH-65 Dolphin helicopter & HC-130 Hercules airplane with multiple crews
Navy P-3 Orion airplane with multiple crews
Navy H-60 helicopter with multiple crews
Army H-60 helicopter with multiple crews
Honolulu Fire Department helicopter with multiple crews
Honolulu Police Department helicopter with multiple crews
USS Gridley
USS John Paul Johns
USS Paul Hamilton
USNS safeguard-class ship Military Sealift Command
Mobile Diving & Salvage Unit 1 with ROV
Coast Guard Cutter Kiska & Coast Guard Cutter Ahi
Ocean Safety jet ski teams with multiple crews
Honolulu Fire Department rescue boat
Marines comprising shoreline search teams
Incident Command Post team Honolulu
Incident Command Post team Haleiwa
Coast Guard MSST 91107 & Regional Dive Locker Pacific
Coast Guard Sector Honolulu
Hawaii Army National Guard  & Hawaii Dept. of Land and Natural Resources

Coast Guard watchstanders in Honolulu received notification of two possible downed military helicopters off the coast of Oahu’s Waimea Bay, each reportedly with six personnel aboard, late Thursday evening prompting the joint search effort. The aircraft were CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters with Marine Aircraft Group 24, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.

The Marine Corps has the lead role for any salvage and the ongoing investigation into the cause of the incident.

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