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Search continues for missing USMC CH-53E crews in Hawaii

The US Marine Corps says four life rafts from two Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallions that crashed off the coast of Hawaii last week have been accounted for, but as yet there is no sign of the 12 missing Marines.

Two CH-53Es of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron-463 crashed into the ocean during a nigh-time training operations near Oahu's Waimea Bay on 14 January.

The US Coast Guard reported yesterday that three empty life rafts were accounted for, but USMC spokesman Capt Timothy Irish tell Flightglobal today that four rafts have now be found, although no bodies. The search will continue today, he says.

The service has not released any details on what caused the crash, only saying “two CH-53Es impacted the water”. The names of the missing Marines were released 17 January.

As of 18 January, a US Navy P-3 Orion, Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin and helicopters of the Honolulu fire and police departments were involved in the search effort, as well as several ships and local military personnel.

According the Department of Defense, service members are combing the shoreline for debris as navy divers look for the two missing aircraft.

The CH-53E is the Marine’s primary heavy-lift helicopter, with an average fleet age of 25 years out of a programmed service life of 41, according to service data.

The service's more than 140 aircraft will eventually be replaced by the in-development Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion, with full operational capability due 2026.

Asset Image

US Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463 on a deployment to Darwin, Australia in 2015.

US Marine Corps

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