The search for 12 crew members missing in the ocean after two U.S. Marine Corps helicopters collided mid-air off the coast of Hawaii continued through the weekend as the Marine Corps identified the service members missing.
The two CH-53E helicopters were on a nighttime training mission when they crashed off the coast of Haleiwa, located on the North Shore of Oahu around 11:40 p.m. Thursday. Each chopper carried a crew of six from Marine Corps Base Hawaii, the Associated Press reported.
Two Navy ships, the Pearl Harbor-based USS John Paul Jones and the San Diego-based USS Gridley, were also participating, along with a Navy squadron of SH-60 helicopters, Navy spokeswoman Agnes Tauyan said.
What's making the search for survivors so critical, the surf on Oahu’s North Shore is expected to be the most intense of the season - 30 to 40 feet high, beginning Friday morning, according to KHNL, the NBC affiliate in Hawaii.
The missing air crew were identified as: Maj. Shawn M. Campbell, 41, College Station, Texas, Capt. Brian T. Kennedy, 31, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Capt. Kevin T. Roche, 30, St. Louis, Missouri, Capt. Steven R. Torbert, 29, Florence, Alabama, Sgt. Dillon J. Semolina, 24,Chaska, Minnesota, Sgt. Adam C. Schoeller, 25, Gardners, Pennsylvania, Sgt. Jeffrey A. Sempler, 22, Woodruff, South Carolina, Sgt. William J. Turner, 25, Florala, Alabama, Cpl. Matthew R. Drown, 23, Spring, Texas, Cpl. Thomas J. Jardas, 22, Fort Myers, Florida, Cpl. Christopher J. Orlando, 23, Hingham, Massachusetts, and Lance Cpl. Ty L. Hart, 21, Aumsville, Oregon.
A Coast Guard helicopter and C-130 airplane spotted a debris field 2 1/2 miles offshore early Friday. The debris covers an area of 2 miles, Irish said.
KHNL reports the debris field is very heavy and the smell of diesel fuel is strong according to U.S. Coast Guard crews on the scene.
"Crews discovered a life raft with no one on board and visible flames on the water," U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Sara Mooers told KHNL.
The cause of the crash has not been determined.
The search includes aircraft from the Navy and Air Force, a Honolulu Fire Department rescue boat and Coast Guard cutters, officials said.
The aircraft are from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463, Marine Aircraft Group 24, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing from Marine Corps Base Hawaii, according to the U.S. Marine Corps.