Life rafts aboard the two Marine helicopters that crashed off Hawaii have been found. However, there is still no sign of the 12 crew members.
Three of the four rafts aboard the helicopters have been retrieved, the Coast Guard said on Monday. Some of these rafts were inflated, but there is nothing to suggest how they were inflated, according to Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Sara Mooers. An underground search was conducted by a Navy ship with sonar, but no debris was discovered.
After the fourth day of searching, “there is no indication from the sightings that any survivors have been aboard any of the life rafts,” the Coast Guard said. The rafts are believed to have been unoccupied, as there were no personal effects found on them.
The search for the missing crew members has been extended. The two CH-53 helicopters collided with one another over the waters off Oahu on Thursday. The accident occurred during a training flight off the Hawaiian island.
The helicopters, also known as Super Stallions, were part of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, ABC News reports. As U.S. military’s largest helicopter, they can carry a light armored vehicle, 16 tons of cargo or a team of combat-equipped Marines, according to MarineCorpsTimes.com.
As many as 89 searches have been conducted, and 21,000 square nautical miles have been covered, as reported by CNN. Lt. Scott Carr, Coast Guard 14th District public affairs officer, said, “Our focus is to locate these Marines and know with absolute certainty we’ve thoroughly canvassed every location we might find them.”
Donna McGrew, Maj. Shawn Campbell’s mother, said in a statement, “My husband and I want everyone to know that this is not about us. This is about the families that are suffering, and about all the sacrifices that our military members and their families make on a daily basis.”
Marine Captain Timothy Irish said crew members receive extra training in additional to survival swimming training, and that they wear personal flotation devices with their flight suits. Mooers said there have been cases where people were discovered weeks after they were at sea.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Marines and their families as we continue search and rescue efforts,” Base Hawaii said.