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U.S. Navy Joins Search for Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

As the efforts intensified this weekend to find Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 and the 227 passengers and 12 crew onboard, the U.S. Navy joined in the search efforts. According to a Navy statement, the Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyers USS Pinckney (DDG 91) and USS Kidd (DDG 100), along with a P-3C Orion patrol aircraft from Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan, have started to search for the missing Boeing 777-200 that is presumed to have crashed.

P-3C Orion

A P-3C Orion patrol aircraft departs from Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan, to aid in the search efforts of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, March 9, 2014. The P-3C brings long-range search, radar and communications capabilities to the efforts. U.S. Navy photo

The Pinckney and Kidd were conducting training in the South China Sea when they were diverted to join the search efforts. Two MH-60R Seahawk helicopters attached to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 78 embarked aboard the Pinckney are being utilized in the search efforts. The Kidd joined the search on March 10, and brings two additional Seahawks to the search efforts. The Seahawks are designed for search and rescue along with other missions, and can fly a maximum of 180 knots, with a ceiling of 13,000 feet and a maximum range of 450 nautical miles. During a typical three and a half hour sortie a Seahawk can usually search between 400-600 square nautical miles. Both ships are on-station and have been assigned search sectors in the Gulf of Thailand by the Malaysian government, which they are combing through utilizing a “creeping-line” search method.

MH-60R Seahawk

A U.S. Navy MH-60R Seahawk helicopter from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 78, Det. 2, assigned to the guided-missile Destroyer USS Pinckney (DDG 91), lands aboard Pinckney during a crew swap before returning on task in the search and rescue for the missing Malaysian airlines Flight MH370, March 9, 2014. U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Petty Officer Chris D. Boardman

One of the Seahawks from Pinckney spent 10 and a half hours searching in the Gulf of Thailand on March 10 without finding a trace of MH370. The helicopter is capable of nighttime searching and used its forward looking infra-red (FLIR) camera.

P-3C Orion

A U.S. Navy P-3C Orion patrol aircraft prepares to depart Subang, Indonesia, March 11, 2014, in search of the missing Malaysian Airlines flight in the Gulf of Thailand. U.S. Navy photo

The P-3C Orion, from Patrol Squadron 46 (VP-46) departed Kadena and searched for three hours in the Strait of Malacca, west of Malaysia, on March 9. The P-3C is capable of covering 1,500 square miles every hour. Since departing Kadena, the P-3C has been staged out of Subang, Indonesia, and can loiter for around nine hours at a stretch. Also en route to the search area is the USNS John Ericsson (T-AO-194). John Ericsson will provide underway fuel and logistics replenishment to ensure that the Pinckney and her two attached Seahawks can stay on station. Additional U.S. contributions include a team from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), along with technical advisers from Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), to assist with the investigation of the disappearance of Flight 370.

USS Kidd

A helicopter assigned to the USS Kidd hoists U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Clayton Wirth after he pulled a life jacket from the Gulf of Thailand during search and rescue operations for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 , March 11, 2014. The life jacket was not from the lost flight. Wirth is a naval air crewman and rescue swimmer assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 78. U.S. Navy photo

Although small debris and two oil slicks have reportedly been detected, a search that has seen the use of 34 planes and 40 ships from 10 countries has discovered nothing that has yet been confirmed as coming from the missing aircraft. The flight departed Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at 12:41 a.m. local time on March 8 bound for Beijing International Airport, China, with a scheduled arrival at 6:30 a.m. Beijing time. The efforts of the U.S. join those of Malaysia, Vietnam, China, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, the Philippines and New Zealand.


Steven Hoarn is the Editor/Photo Editor for Defense Media Network. He is a graduate of...