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Red Sea helicopter crash claims two San Diego sailors

September 24th, 2013 | by Crystal Chatham | Comments
MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter

An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the Indians of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 6 flies past the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) on June 21, 2013. The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group was deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions for Operation Enduring Freedom. A Knighthawk helicopter from HSC-6 crashed Sunday in the Red Sea and two crew members were killed. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason Behnke/Released)

Two sailors who went missing and are presumed dead after a helicopter crash in the Red Sea on Sunday have been identified.

The Department of Defense named Lt. Commander Landon L. Jones, 35, of Lompoc and Chief Warrant Officer Jonathon S. Gibson, 32, of Aurora, Oregon as the remaining crew members of the downed MH-60S Knighthawk. They were members of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 6 (HSC-6) based at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego and deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Three other crew members were recovered and are in stable condition, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs said in a statement earlier in the week.

According to the statement, the helicopter crashed in a known location in the central part of the Red Sea while conducting operations with the guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) at approximately 12:40 p.m. Bahrain time. No hostile activity was involved, it said.

The Navy called off a search for Jones and Gibson on Monday afternoon, Bahrain time. Citing elapsed time, they deemed the service members’ survivability “extremely unlikely” the statement said. 27 hours passed between the crash and the search being called off.

Units and assets participating in the search included: USS Nimitz (CVN 68), USS William P. Lawrence, USS Princeton (CG 59), USS Shoup (DDG 86), USS Stockdale (DDG 106) and USNS Rainier (T-AOE 7) as well as MH-60S Knighthawks from HSC-6, and MH-60R Seahawks from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 75 and one P-3 from Patrol Squadron (VP) 47.

The accident is under investigation.

According to casualty statistics released by the DoD at 10 a.m. Tuesday morning, 117 U.S. service members have died due to non-hostile causes while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to places other than Afghanistan.

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