A Navy MH-60S Seahawk helicopter suffered “side-to-side” vibrations when it landed on the Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier last week, causing its main rotor to collide with the flight deck and the The helicopter crashed into the side of the ship, according to a Navy safety report released Tuesday.
Five sailors aboard the helicopter were killed. A helicopter crew member was rescued from the water. Five other sailors on the ship were injured in the crash; two were brought ashore for treatment.
The accident is still under investigation and the Navy has released few details. A line on the 28th page of the Naval Safety Center’s incident summary for September, first reported by Navy time, says that when the Seahawk landed on the aircraft carrier’s flight deck, it started to vibrate. This lateral movement caused the main rotor of the helicopter to strike the flight deck, causing the helicopter to pass over the side of the ship.
Lt. Samuel Boyle, spokesperson for the Navy’s 3rd Fleet in San Diego, said Tuesday the Security Center’s report was correct.
The remains of the crew and the helicopter have not yet been found.
“The Navy will do everything possible to recover the remains and the helicopter,” Boyle said.
Boyle declined to comment on the depth of the ocean where the crash occurred or whether salvage submarines are being deployed in the search. The accident happened about 60 nautical miles from San Diego.
The helicopter and its crew were assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 8, based at Naval Air Station North Island. The Lincoln is also based at the air station.
The sailors killed in the accident were:
- Lieutenant Bradley Foster, 29, Oakhurst, Calif.
- Lt. Paul Fridley, 28, from Annadale, 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, Mo.
In 2020, when a Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicle sank in 385 feet of water with eight soldiers on board near San Clemente Island, a remote-controlled submarine found the vehicle – and the remains – in five days.
The Abraham Lincoln was conducting routine operations with his air wing in preparation for a scheduled deployment early next year, the Navy said.
The Eastern Pacific is a key training area for the Navy’s 3rd Fleet. The helicopter crash is the third fatal training accident in 13 months in the region, following the sinking of the Marine AAV and an Army Black Hawk crash on San Clemente Island four weeks later that killed two soldiers.