A search and rescue effort is still ongoing for 12 Marines whose two CH-53E helicopters crashed during a night operations training event off the coast of Oahu, according to a Marine Corps statement.
The U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Kiska (WPB-1336) and Ahi (WPB-87634), stationed out of Hilo and Honolulu, respectively, as well as an MH-65 helicopter and an HC-130 Hercules aircraft are searching the waters around the island.
U.S. Navy destroyers USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53) and USS Gridley (DDG-101) and an MH-60R helicopter from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 37 are also participating in the effort.
The two Marine Corps helicopters – Super Stallions from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 463, Marine Aircraft Group 24, 1st Marine Air Wing out of Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay – are believed to have collided shortly before midnight on Thursday night local time. The Coast Guard began a search and rescue effort, but 30- to 40-foot surf and bad weather have complicated the search effort, according to media reports.
The Coast Guard said it is searching for the Marines in a debris field about seven miles offshore.
Approximately 30 Marines with Marine Aircraft Group 24 are assisting in debris recovery and clean-up, as well as delivering food, water and supplies to those involved in the recovery effort, according to the Marine Corps statement.
Both the Marine Corps and Coast Guard asked that local residents not touch any debris that washes up on shore but rather contact officials with the location of the debris for further examination.