Red Sea Helicopter Crash Leaves 2 U.S. Crewmen Missing

Wednesday, 25 Sep 2013 12:58 PM

By Ken Mandel

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The Department of Defense has ended a search for two missing crew members aboard a U.S. helicopter that tumbled off a ship into the Red Sea.

Lt. Cmdr. Landon L. Jones, 35, of Lompoc, Calif., and Chief Warrant Officer Jonathon S. Gibson, 32, of Aurora, Ore., were among five men inside the MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter when it tumbled into the Red Sea Sunday after it had completed routine flight operations and landed on the deck of the missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence.

In suspending efforts to find the men, the Navy told Stars and Stripes that their survival was "extremely unlikely."

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Three men were rescued and listed in stable condition, according to a Navy press release.

Jones and Gibson were part of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Six. The DoD release stated that the crash was not the result of "hostile activity." A Navy official told media outlets that a large wave may have hit the ship, forcing the rear deck to suddenly jolt forward, leading to the crash, though an exact cause hasn't been determined.

The William P. Lawrence, named for the late U.S. Navy Vice Admiral who died in 2005, is one of three missile destroyers with the Nimitz fleet, which deployed in April. The ship was on its way home from the Persian Gulf when it re-routed to the Red Sea earlier this month to prepare for potential military action against Syria.

The Knighthawk crash comes less than two months after an HH-60 rescue helicopter went down at an American base on the Japanese island of Okinawa. Three of the four crew members were ejected and survived, the Air Force told Military.com. A search for the missing man was called off after human remains were discovered.

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Earlier this week, a non-military helicopter crashed near Phoenix with reports of no survivors. In late August, a copter went down in the North Sea, killing four.

Related stories:

US Military Helicopter Crashes on Japan's Okinawa

6 Marines Killed in Afghanistan Helicopter Crash

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