Search Expanded for Downed Black Hawk, 5 Aviators Still Missing

August 17, 2017, 4:47 PM HST · Updated August 17, 5:12 PM
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Search Expanded for Downed Black Hawk, 5 Aviators Still Missing
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Crews continue to recover debris from a downed Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, but the five aviators aboard remain missing.

The craft had lost communication with personnel at Wheeler Army Airfield on Tuesday night during a training exercise with another black Hawk air crew between Kaʻena Point and Dillingham Airfield on Oʻahu.

The search is focused on an area approximately two miles west of Ka’ena Point, and has expanded to as much as 50 miles offshore due to the swift and dynamic currents in the area.

Fixed-wing aviation assets are searching the leading edge while helicopters and vessels are concentrating efforts 15-20 miles offshore. Additional assets are being considered and may join the search throughout the day.

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As of 1 p.m. on Thursday, none of the aviators had been located.

Personnel at the joint forward incident command post at Hale’iwa Boat Harbor continue to coordinate search and rescue efforts.

A safety zone extending out in a five nautical mile radius (from roughly two miles northwest of Ka’ena Point), was established by the Coast Guard on Wednesday. No vessels or persons are authorized to enter this zone without prior approval from the Captain of the Port. A broadcast notice to mariners has been issued. Ka’ena State Park trails are currently closed at this time.

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Authorities say debris from the crash should be considered hazardous material and should only be recovered by recovery teams with the proper training and personal protective equipment. Coast Guard officials say the debris poses potential risk and could cause serious bodily harm due to sharp edges.

Weather on scene is currently 17 mph winds with 4 foot seas and isolated showers.

Assets responding to the incident include the following:

* Coast Guard Cutter Walnut (WLB 205) and crew from Honolulu
* UH-60 Black Hawk from Wheeler Army Airfield
* CH-47 Chinook helicopter aircrew from Wheeler Army Airfield
* Shore patrols and a helicopter crew from Honolulu Fire Department
* Crews from Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services
* Crew from the Hawaii Department of Land of Natural Resources
* Shore patrols from the Army

Also en route is the Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island (WPB 1349) and crew, who are replacing the Coast Guard Cutter Ahi (WPB 87364).

The Coast Guard Cutter Walnut (WLB 205), a 225-foot buoy tender homeported in Honolulu is shown coordinating search efforts with a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu, for five crewmembers aboard a downed Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter off Ka’ena Point, Oahu, Aug. 17, 2017. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released) Photo at right: An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point prepares for a first-light flight to continue the search for five missing Army aviators Aug. 17, 2017. (U.S. Coast Guard video by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Levasseur/Released)

The Coast Guard Cutter Walnut (WLB 205), a 225-foot buoy tender homeported in Honolulu is shown coordinating search efforts with a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu, for five crewmembers aboard a downed Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter off Ka’ena Point, Oahu, Aug. 17, 2017. Two Black Hawk aircrews were reportedly conducting night training Aug. 15, between Ka’ena Point and Dillingham Airfield when communications were lost with one of the helicopters. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Ahi (WPB 87364), an 87-foot patrol boat, are shown returning to Coast Guard Base Honolulu, after searching throughout the night for five crewmembers aboard a downed Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter off Ka’ena Point, Oahu, Aug. 17, 2017. The Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island (WPB 1349), a 110-foot patrol boat, will take their place in the search. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Adam Weimerskirch/Released)

A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter aircrew from Wheeler Army Airfield and a fireboat crew from the Honolulu Fire Department are shown conducting a search for five crewmembers aboard a downed Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter approximately two miles west of Ka’ena Point, Oahu, Aug. 16, 2017. Two Black Hawk aircrews were reportedly conducting night training Aug. 15, between Ka’ena Point and Dillingham Airfield when communications were lost with one of the helicopters. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Ahi (WPB 87364), an 87-foot patrol boat homeported in Honolulu, are shown conducting a search for five crewmembers aboard a downed Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter approximately two miles west of Ka’ena Point, Oahu, Aug. 16, 2017. Two Black Hawk aircrews were reportedly conducting night training Aug. 15, between Ka’ena Point and Dillingham Airfield when communications were lost with one of the helicopters. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)

A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu are shown conducting a search for five crewmembers aboard a downed Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter approximately two miles west of Ka’ena Point, Oahu, Aug. 16, 2017. Two Black Hawk aircrews were reportedly conducting night training Aug. 15, between Ka’ena Point and Dillingham Airfield when communications were lost with one of the helicopters. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)

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