In a record-breaking salvage operation, the Navy recovered an MH-60 Seahawk helicopter that was located 19,075 feet deep in the Pacific ocean.
In January 2020, the MH-60 Seahawk chopper had crashed into the Philippine Sea approximately 105 miles east of Okinawa while it was conducting a routine flight. The five crew members had managed to exit the helicopter before it went down to the deep. U.S. and Japanese forces that were in the region had promptly rescued the five sailors. The downed bird belonged to the USS Blue Ridge, an amphibious command ship.
After the crash, the US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) called in the Salvage Operations Division of the Naval Sea Systems Command in order to locate and document the wreckage with the ultimate aim of salvaging it.
The Navy’s Salvage Operations Division specializes in salvage, emergency towing, deep ocean search and recovery operations, and oil pollution abatement. It owns and operates the world’s largest inventory of salvage equipment, including several deep ocean search and recovery craft and systems.
The Salvage Operations Division deployed CURV 21, a deep-water remotely operated vehicle with a deep-lift take-up reel that allows it to pull wrecks from up to 20,000 feet.
“As a whole, this operation was fast-paced and entirely successful,” Bryan Blake, SUPSALV’s Deep Ocean Program Manager, said in a press release. “Our efforts validated the Navy’s deep ocean search and recovery requirements. The capability to recover the airframe and make it available to determine the cause of the accident is a huge plus helping to ensure Naval Aviation safety.”
Recently, the Salvage Operations Division took part in the search and rescue effort to locate the Argentinian submarine ARA San Juan that went down with all hands in 2018.
The Navy operates more than 500 different variants of the MH-60 Seahawk helicopter in a variety of roles, including anti-submarine warfare, special operations support, and transportation. The platform is quite popular as an additional 14 countries operate it.