US Navy Reveals What Caused Fatal Helicopter Crash

by Courtney Blackann
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

After a fatal helicopter crash left five U.S. Navy Sailors dead, officials have now released what could have caused the accident.

On August 31, an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter crashed into the USS Abraham Lincoln while on landing approach. A new report indicates the aircraft was violently shaking side to side. This could be due to an imbalance in the rotor blades, making the main rotor hit the deck of the carrier, according to the Department of Defense.

Out of the five sailors who died in the crash, one was rescued. Another five sailors on the carrier were injured and were treated either onboard the ship or flown to a nearby San Diego hospital.

Search and rescue teams were deployed to search for the bodies of the fallen sailors, however, they remain missing and the search was called off.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of five Sailors and those injured following the MH-60S helicopter tragedy off the coast of Southern California,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said. 

‘We stand alongside their families, loved ones, and shipmates who grieve.’   

He added:

“As a matter of respect for the families and in accordance with Navy policy, the identities of the Sailors will be withheld until 24 hours after their next of kin have been notified,” Gilday said.   

The sailors have since been identified as Lt. Bradley A. Foster, 29, a pilot from Oakhurst, California; Lt. Paul R. Fridley, 28, a pilot from Annandale, Virginia; Naval Air Crewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class James P. Buriak, 31, from Salem, Virginia; Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Sarah F. Burns, 31, from Severna Park, Maryland, and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Bailey J. Tucker, 21, from St. Louis, Missouri.

US Navy Crash Occurs During Routine Flight

Further, the Aug. 31 crash occurred while the sailors were conducting a routine flight operation. The MH-60S Seahawk is used in combat, rescue operations as well as aiding in natural disasters. The Navy owns about 250 of the helicopters and has used them for missions since 2002. It can travel a range of 250 nautical miles at speeds up to 180 knots.

The flight crew were flying before 4:30 p.m. when the crash happened. It occurred about 60 miles off the coast of California, near San Diego.

Immediately after the crash, Coast Guard search and rescue teams were deployed to the area. While one person on the helicopter was rescued, five others were never found. The teams shifted their efforts from search and rescue to recovery Sept. 4.

Meanwhile, the naval squadron’s spouse group managed to raise $180,000 for the families of the fallen sailors in an effort to help with related expenses.