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Navy reveals cause of helicopter crash off California coast that that killed five crewmembers

Navy helicopter crash now recovery operation
Navy shifts from rescue operation to recovery operation for sailors in helicopter crash 00:27

A Navy helicopter crash off Southern California that killed five crewmembers last year was caused by mechanical failure, not pilot error, the military announced Tuesday.

A command investigation completed on April 18 found that a damper hose failed on the MH-60S Seahawk during flight, probably because of unsuspected damage that occurred during maintenance, the Navy said.

The hose reduces vibrations from the main rotor and the failure led to severe vibrations that caused the rotor to hit the deck as the aircraft landed on an aircraft carrier on Aug. 31, 2021, off San Diego, the Navy said.

The helicopter fell into the sea and sank about 70 miles off San Diego. One crewmember was rescued and five were declared dead after a search.

The victims of the accident were identified as Lieutenant Bradley Foster, 29; Lieutenant Paul Fridley, 28, Naval Air Crewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class James Buriak, 31; Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Sarah Burns, 31; and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Bailey J. Tucker, 21. 

A team from the Naval Sea Systems Command's Supervisor of Salvage and Diving recovered the remains and wreckage on October 8 off the coast of San Diego, the Navy said.

Five sailors aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln were injured.

"There is no evidence that weather conditions or pilot error were causal or contributing factors to the mishap," the command investigation concluded.

The aircraft belonged to the Navy's Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 8.

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