US Navy recovers helicopter lost in 2020 crash off Okinawa


The Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV) of the US Navy’s Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) recovered a downed US Navy helicopter from a depth of 5,814 metres off the coast of Okinawa, Japan, late last week.

The helicopter, a twin engine Sikorsky MH-60S Seahawk, crashed into the Pacific Ocean last year while operating from the amphibious command ship USS Blue Ridge. The aircrew were able to escape the helicopter before it sank and no lives were lost in the accident.

Responding to a US Pacific Command Fleet request, SUPSALV located and documented the wreckage using side-scan sonar and photographs of the helicopter as it lay on the ocean floor during North Pacific operations last spring.

SUPSALV returned to the site this month at the request of the Navy Safety Center with CURV 21, a deep-water, remotely operated vehicle (ROV) with the ability to meet deep ocean salvage requirements to a maximum depth of nearly 6,100 metres.

The SUPSALV team met the contracted salvage vessel in Guam, completed mobilisation of CURV 21 and its deep-lift take-up reel, and departed for the five-day transit. Upon arriving at the crash site on March 17, the team began recovery operations.

The salvage vessel will then proceed to Fleet Activities Yokosuka where the MH-60S will be offloaded for transport back to the United States.

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