Navy declares 5 missing sailors dead after helicopter crash

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The Navy has shifted from search and rescue to recovery operations of five sailors after declaring them dead following a helicopter crash earlier this week.

An MH-60S helicopter had been conducting flight operations aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln when it plummeted into the water some 60 nautical miles off the coast of San Diego around 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 31. The Navy, working with the Coast Guard, conducted a search and rescue operation over the following days. 

Five other crewmembers had been injured and one crewmember had been recovered and transported ashore in stable condition. 

The Navy’s Third Fleet announced Saturday that those efforts have ended and the operations have shifted to recovery after officials declared the five missing crewmembers deceased, according to a statement provided to Fox News. 

The Navy will not identify the crewmembers until the families and next of kin have been notified. 

Officials did not make the decision lightly, but efforts had persisted for more than 72 hours of coordinated rescue efforts, including five helicopters making consistent sweeps over the area, which covered 600 square miles. 

The USS Abraham Lincoln remains at sea as part of the recovery effort. 

A Coast Guard official told Fox News that debris from the helicopter has been found in the ocean. 

An investigation into the incident is underway. 

Fox News’ Louis Casiano contributed to this report. 

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