US Navy Continues Support of AirAsia Search Ops

The U.S. Navy’s support of Indonesian-led search operations for AirAsia Flight QZ8501 continued Jan. 5, with USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) and USS Sampson (DDG 102) operating in the Java Sea.

Sampson, a guided-missile destroyer, joined the effort on Dec. 30, followed by the littoral combat ship Fort Worth on Jan. 3.

U.S. Navy divers from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 1, embarked aboard Forth Worth, have conducted Tow Fish side-scan sonar searches over the past two days, mapping the ocean floor and providing highly accurate imagery for further analysis, according to a U.S. 7th Fleet news media update.

Cmdr. Kendall Bridgewater, USS Fort Worth Crew 104 commanding officer, said:

We are working around the clock in close coordination with our Indonesian partners to support all the search efforts that are ongoing. We’re basically operating our small boats, launching our helicopters and conducting visual searches from the bridge as we transit the area.

Sampson remains on station and continues to assist in recovering debris, including airline seats on Jan. 4 that were in the process of being transferred to Indonesian authorities. Sampson’s crew has also recovered and returned passenger remains from the aircraft to Indonesian officials.

The two MH-60R helicopters aboard Sampson are working closely with Fort Worth’s MH-60R helicopter and all three Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35 helicopters are conducting both day and night operations, the 7th Fleet update added.

Both ships conducted an underway replenishment with USNS Carl Brashear (T-AKE-7) on Monday, taking on fuel, food and supplies.

U.S. Navy assets will remain on station as long as they can provide useful assistance to the search efforts, which are being coordinated by the Indonesia National Search and Rescue Agency.

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Press release, Image: US Navy