Two sailors are dead, one is missing and two are hospitalized following the crash of a MH-53E Sea Dragon off the coast of Virginia Beach, Va. on Wednesday morning.
“Two crew members remain hospitalized at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. One is listed in serious condition and the other has been upgraded to fair condition,” Naval Air Force Atlantic said in a statement provided to USNI News.
“The search for the fifth crew member is continuing.”
Assets in the search and rescue operation include U.S. Coast Guard 87-foot patrol boat Shearwater in the search and rescue operations include the Guided Missile Destroyer USS Jason Dunham (DDG-109), the salvage vessel USNS Grasp (T-ARS-51), the Amphibious Transport Dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD-19), and the dry cargo ship USNS Medgar Evans (T-AKE-13).
“Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit Two (MDSU-2) from Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek Fort Story dive boats, manned with Navy divers, are also on scene,” according to the statement.
Virginia Beach Fire and Rescue units have located the helicopter’s fuselage.
The helicopter and crew were assigned to Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14 Vanguards (HM-14) based at Naval Station Norfolk.
The aircraft went down around 11:00 a.m. EST, officials told USNI News.
The helicopter was conducting a mine training exercise when it was forced to conduct an emergency landing.
Sea Dragons are part of the Navy’s mine countermeasure force and search for mines by towing a sonar sled from the hold of the aircraft. It’s unclear the type of training the crew was undertaking at the time of the emergency landing.
The Navy is investigating the cause of the crash.