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US Navy finds helicopter wreckage and remains of five sailors six weeks after San Diego crash

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The wreckage of the helicopter and the bodies of five Navy sailors have been recovered six weeks after the plane crashed off the coast of San Diego on Aug. 31.

The sailors were performing routine flights from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln when their MH-60S helicopter crashed.

The Navy later confirmed that their identity was Lieutenant Bradley Foster, 29, of Oakhurst, California; Lieutenant Paul Fridley, 28, of Annadale, Virginia; Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class James Buriak, 31, of Salem, Virginia; Hospital Corps Officer 2nd Class Sarah Burns, 31, of Severna Park, Maryland; and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Bailey Tucker, 21, of St. Louis, Missouri.

The Navy formally announced their deaths last month after a three-day search and rescue mission failed to locate the wreckage.

The wreckage of the MH-60S Seahawk helicopter was finally recovered Friday by salvage divers from the multipurpose service vessel HOS Bayou.

The helicopter was found 5300 feet or about a mile below sea level on Oct. 8, about 60 miles southwest of San Diego.

The Navy has kept the discovery hidden from the public until today in order to inform the families of the sailors.

Bailey J. Tucker, 21, (above) was among those who died in a Seahawk helicopter on Aug. 31

Pilot Lt. Paul R. Fridley, 28, (left) and Bailey J. Tucker, 21, (right) were among those who died in a Seahawk helicopter on Aug. 31

Lieutenant Bradley A. Foster, 29, (above) was the co-pilot on the flight

Hospital Corps Officer 2nd Class Sarah F. Burns, 31 (above) died in the crash

Copilot Lt. Bradley A. Foster, 29, (left) and Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Sarah F. Burns, 31 (right) died in the crash. They were all part of the ‘Eightballers’ of the HSC-8 team

Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class James P. Buriak, 31, was on the run when it crashed

Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class James P. Buriak, 31, was on the run when it crashed

The Navy used deep-submersible drones with sonar and cameras to determine the general location of the wreck in September, before dispatching the salvage team.

But salvage efforts were delayed due to the need for heavier salvage equipment and more personnel.

HOS Bayou – an offshore tug that supports deep-water services – was deployed to help salvage the helicopter and its remains on board.

De Bayou arrived with the bodies at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego on Oct. 10 on Saturday, according to the US Navy Institute.

The remains were then transferred to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware for identification.

The Navy is still investigating the cause of the fatal crash.

The helicopter crashed after experiencing “side-to-side vibrations” while landing on the cockpit of the USS Abraham Lincoln on Aug. 31 at 4:30 p.m., during routine flight operations, according to CBS 8.

The helicopter’s rotor hit the cockpit and crashed over the side of the ship.

One of the six crew members survived and was reportedly in stable conditions at the time of the crash, but remains unnamed.

Five Abraham Lincoln crew members were also injured, the Navy reported.

The wreckage was found about 60 miles southwest of San Diego and was located 5300 feet or one mile below sea level

The wreckage was found about 60 miles southwest of San Diego and was located 5300 feet or one mile below sea level

They were landing an MH-60S, similar to this one, when the helicopter experienced 'side-to-side vibrations' before the rotor hit the cockpit, causing it to fall off the USS Abraham Lincoln

They were landing an MH-60S, similar to this one, when the helicopter experienced ‘side-to-side vibrations’ before the rotor hit the cockpit, causing it to fall off the USS Abraham Lincoln

Two were returned to California for hospital treatment, the other three were treated on the USS Abraham Lincoln.

The crash forced Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Eight (HSC-8) to suspend all flights for seven days to evaluate the aircraft and personnel immediately after the crash.

“The safety of our sailors is always a top priority and the US Navy consistently integrates security into all levels of operations and training,” said Commander Zachary Harrell.

The helicopter was performing a routine flight on the USS Abraham Lincoln (pictured) when it crashed on August 31.  The helicopter and bodies were found by the United States Navy and Coast Guard on Oct

The helicopter was performing a routine flight on the USS Abraham Lincoln (pictured) when it crashed on August 31. The helicopter and bodies were found by the United States Navy and Coast Guard on Oct

This is the Navy’s second helicopter salvage operation this year.

In March, the Navy recovered another MH-60S Seahawk that sank at a depth of 19,075 off the coast of Okinawa in 2020.

The MH-60S helicopter, used for anti-surface warfare, combat support and humanitarian efforts, was first deployed in 2002.

It has a length of almost 65 feet with a height of 17 feet and a weight of 14,430 pounds when empty, and a maximum of 23,500 pounds gross.

The USS Abraham Lincoln, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, is one of the largest warships in the world.

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