Navy Helicopter Crashes in Philippine Sea; 5 Crewmembers Safe

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Sailors direct the launch of an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter from the USS Blue Ridge
Sailors direct the launch of an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter from the "Golden Falcons" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12 from the flight deck of U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) Jan. 21, 2020. (Dylan McKay/U.S. Navy)

All five crew members from a Navy MH-60S Seahawk helicopter were rescued when the aircraft crashed in the Philippine Sea earlier today, Navy officials said.

The aircraft, assigned to the amphibious command ship Blue Ridge, went down around 5:15 p.m. local time during routine operations, officials said in a news release. Three of the crew members aboard were picked up by a Japanese UH-60 search-and-rescue helicopter and transferred to Naval Hospital Okinawa for evaluation; two more were returned to their ship via another Navy Seahawk.

It's not clear what caused the aircraft to go down. The condition of all five crew members was reported as stable, according to the release.

"Japan Air Self-Defense Force, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, Japanese Coast Guard, USS America (LHA 6), USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) and the U.S. Air Force all participated in the search and rescue," officials said.

The Blue Ridge is homeported in Yokosuka, Japan, and left port Jan. 21 for a routine patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet, according to publicly released images and the ship's history page at USCarriers.net. The page reported the ship was roughly 60 nautical miles east of Okinawa when the helicopter went down.

The Blue Ridge is the oldest operational ship in the Navy.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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