HONOLULU (AP) _ The Navy has declared four airmen missing at sea after their helicopter went down during routine cargo restocking of the USS Nimitz Battle Group, north of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, a spokesman said Friday.
Search efforts were suspended at dusk and called off Thursday night for the four San Diego-based airmen, said Lt. Ken Ross, spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The crash occurred Wednesday.
A Navy investigation was continued into the cause of the accident, he said.
″They look at the radio transmissions before and during the emergency, any records recovered for clues, the weather at the time of the accident, and it takes a while,″ Ross said.
The CH-46 Sea-Knight helicopter went down at 5:45 p.m. Wednesday near Wake Island, midway between Hawaii and Japan, he said. Nearby ships immediately launched motor whaleboats and helicopters in search-and-resuce efforts that were continued through Thursday, he said.
The aircraft was part of Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 11′s Detachment 2, embarked on the USS Camden, according to a release from the North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego.
The missing were identified as Lt. Eric W. Allison, 26, of Denmark, Iowa; Lt. j.g. Kenneth D. Pickens, 24, of Decatur, Ala.; Airman William A. Jackson, 20, of Kanab, Utah; and Petty Officer 1st Class Johnny L. Caulder Jr., 28, whose hometown was not immediately available.