A U.S. Navy MH-60S Seahawk helicopter, assigned to amphibious command ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), went down in the Philippine Sea on Jan. 25, according to a statement from U.S. 7th Fleet.
The incident occurred at approximately 5:15 p.m. local time when the helicopter was conducting routine operations. The 7th Fleet statement said that the five aircrew onboard the helicopter were rescued following the crash and that all five crew members are currently in stable condition.
Three aircrew were recovered by a Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) UH-60 search and rescue helicopter and were transported to Naval Hospital Okinawa for evaluation. The other two were recovered by a USS Blue Ridge MH-60S helicopter and were returned to the ship.
The JASDF, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), the Japan Coast Guard (JCG), and the U.S. Air Force all participated in the search and rescue operation. The U.S. Navy assets that participated in the SAR operation include USS Blue Ridge and amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6).
The Sikorsky SH-60/MH-60 Seahawk (or Sea Hawk) is a twin turboshaft engine, multi-mission helicopter primarily operated by the U.S. Navy.
The Seahawk helicopter is based on the U.S. Army’s UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter and a member of the Sikorsky S-70 family. The most significant modifications are the folding main rotor and a hinged tail to reduce its footprint aboard ships.
The MH-60S variant of the Seahawk was selected by the Navy to replace its venerable CH-46 Sea Knight tandem-rotor helicopters in 1997. The MH-60S is unofficially known as the “Knighthawk”, referring to the preceding Sea Knight, though “Seahawk” is its official DoD name.
The MH-60S Seahawk is deployed aboard Navy aircraft carriers, amphibious assault ships, Maritime Sealift Command (MSC) ships, and fast combat support ships. Its missions include vertical replenishment (VERTREP), medical evacuation (MEDEVAC), combat search and rescue (CSAR), anti-surface warfare (ASuW), maritime interdiction, close air support (CAS), intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), and special warfare support.
A standard crew for the MH-60S is one pilot, one co-pilot, and two tactical aircrewmen depending on the mission.