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Coast Guard Helicopter Crashes in Mobile Bay, AL. Three Dead, One Missing

45 comments

A Coast Guard MH-65C Dolphin helicopter on a training mission crashed Tuesday night in Mobile Bay in Alabama. The helicopter carried a crew of four. The crash occurred about 8:30 p.m. Rescue crews who arrived on scene shortly after the crash recovered a crewmember from the helicopter who was later declared deceased. He was identified as Chief Petty Officer Fernando Jorge who was the rescue swimmer aboard. The other crewmembers were the pilot, Lt. Commander Dale Taylor, co-pilot Lt. junior grade Thomas Cameron, and the engineer, Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Knight who were declared missing.

The Coast Guard immediately launched an intensive search in the hope of finding survivors. Coast Guard units involved in the search were the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Stingray, homeported in Mobile, two MH-65C Dolphin helicopters and crews from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans, one MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and crew from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Florida, two 26-foot Trailerable Aids to Navigation Boats and crews from Coast Guard sector Mobile, the Coast Guard Gulf Strike Team, the Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team San Diego dive team, Alabama Marine Resources, and the Mobile County Sheriff's Department.

The search continued for 36 hours with the units conducting about 30 search patterns that covered 1,198 nautical miles within a search area of more than 200 nautical square miles in Mobile bay.. Thursday night U.S. Coast Guard officials reported that they had recovered the bodies of two of the three missing crew members, Lt. Commander Dale Taylor and Lieutenant junior grade Thomas Cameron. They were found about 100 yards from where the fuselage of the helicopter was found.

The search was hampered by surface fog and the fact that the waters of Mobile bay are very muddy in the spring due to river run offs which limited visibility underwater to 5 feet in most cases and as little as 1 foot in othes..

The tail section and the fuselage have been recovered as well as the flight data recorder, similar to the "black box" on airplanes and will be stored and analyzed as part of the investigation into the cause of the crash.

The Coast Guard has suspended the active search and rescue operations for the remaining crewmember and crews are now conducting salvage and recovery operations today. "The decision to suspend the active search was terribly difficult," said Captain Donald Rose the commander of Coast Guard Sector Mobile.

45 Comments

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  1. easy says:
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    Never understood the reasoning for buying that French-made crap in the 80s : light weight/small payload.I’m sure it was good for a few suits,just not for CG mission.

  2. easy says:
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    Never understood the reasoning for buying that French-made crap in the 80s : light weight/small payload.I’m sure it was good for a few suits,just not for CG mission.

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    i agree on buying french helicopters — Sikorsky – makes a great chopper that served them well —

    Joe Somerville
    AM2 Search & Rescue Aircrew Veteran
    HH52A – Helo

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    i agree on buying french helicopters — Sikorsky – makes a great chopper that served them well —

    Joe Somerville
    AM2 Search & Rescue Aircrew Veteran
    HH52A – Helo

  5. Fopper says:
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    My thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and co-workers of CPO Jorge, Lt Commander Talor, Lt JG Cameron and PO3 Knight. They risk their lives every day to help protect our country and rescue folks in need.

    God Bless you all and thank you for your service.

  6. Josh Ellis says:
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    First I would like to send my condolences to the friends and families of the Coastie’s that passed. I am a prior H-60 AMT3 (Honorably Discharged 2009), and I feel like I keep hearing about a new aircraft mishap every 6 months, the CG has lost a lot of good members over the last few years. I really hope the Coast Guard starts seriously investigating these accidents, taking into account the frequency of them lately. I am proud to have served in the CG and I wish all of you well.

  7. tom hyder says:
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    Home is the sailor…….bless you boys.

  8. Billy says:
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    My thoughts and prayers are with them. Have many hours doing Helo-ops/training with small boats.
    MK3 veteran from 2 stations and MSO unit.

  9. Sunday Evans says:
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    My brother was killed in 1980 on the USCGC Blackthorn. As a family member of a Coastguard tragedy, my heart aches for these men and their families. We did not have my brother’s body for over a month. That was the hardest part…the not knowing! Please coast Guard officials, resume this search and find this other missing sailor! If for no other reason, for peace of mind of his family! My thoughts and prayers will be with each of them in the days and years ahead. Gone but NEVER forgotten. Semper Paratus!

  10. Sunday Evans says:
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    My brother was killed in 1980 on the USCGC Blackthorn. As a family member of a Coastguard tragedy, my heart aches for these men and their families. We did not have my brother’s body for over a month. That was the hardest part…the not knowing! Please coast Guard officials, resume this search and find this other missing sailor! If for no other reason, for peace of mind of his family! My thoughts and prayers will be with each of them in the days and years ahead. Gone but NEVER forgotten. Semper Paratus!

  11. Doug Turk says:
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    Having flown (and still flying) the Dolphin & it’s civilian version (AS365N3) for over 20 years & 6,000 flight hours I can confirm the aircraft is one of the best & safest helicopters ever made. That airframe has the LOWEST accident-rate per flight hour of any helicopter in that weight-class which is why the CG has committed to operate it thru 2027. The reason the CG isn’t flying a Sikorsky as its SRR is because Sikorsky WITHDREW from the bidding process because they told the CG in the end, they’d (the CG) would be forced politically to buy from them…at double what Aerospatilale was bidding. Personally, I’m GLAD Sikorsky screwed up because I got into a much better airframe. And OBTW – I’ve got S76 time too.

  12. Jase says:
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    Foremost: Condolences to all families. We’re thinking of you, and we appreciate that all members of your family serve us when your husbands and fathers board those A/C. We wish you well. Second: The purchase of French A/C, which includes Falcon bizjets as well, was purely driven by the Europeans screaming we didn’t buy their gear as a NATO partner. Combined with this was the fact that the Coastie chain of command was more closely tied to the nonmilitary side of the government, which made it easier to ignore the screams of outrage about not buying American gear for the military. Place on top of this the simple fact that these orders for Dauphins, and Falcons, which really should not have been made, were very small orders that allowed Congress to more or less slide them into the Federal budgets as tiny line item procurements – without being whipped out of office back home in the next election(combined, of course, with the standard ‘Congresscritter Humfunny proudly announces the posting of two $2.65mil CG helos in our District. . .’). SO, BASICALLY, SMALL SOP TO KEEP THE MOST ARROGANT NATO PARTNER HAPPY ANENT US BUYING IN ON THE ‘TWO-WAY STREET FOR NATO PROCUREMENT’ SUBJECT, WHILE NOT REALLY BUYING VERY MUCH. Those A/C aren’t actually bad A/C, but the professionalism of the Coasties flying them is the real reason they have a high sortie rate. . . that, and a reminder of Coast Guard thinking, “You have to go out there. You don’t HAVE to come back.”

  13. Jase says:
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    Foremost: Condolences to all families. We’re thinking of you, and we appreciate that all members of your family serve us when your husbands and fathers board those A/C. We wish you well. Second: The purchase of French A/C, which includes Falcon bizjets as well, was purely driven by the Europeans screaming we didn’t buy their gear as a NATO partner. Combined with this was the fact that the Coastie chain of command was more closely tied to the nonmilitary side of the government, which made it easier to ignore the screams of outrage about not buying American gear for the military. Place on top of this the simple fact that these orders for Dauphins, and Falcons, which really should not have been made, were very small orders that allowed Congress to more or less slide them into the Federal budgets as tiny line item procurements – without being whipped out of office back home in the next election(combined, of course, with the standard ‘Congresscritter Humfunny proudly announces the posting of two $2.65mil CG helos in our District. . .’). SO, BASICALLY, SMALL SOP TO KEEP THE MOST ARROGANT NATO PARTNER HAPPY ANENT US BUYING IN ON THE ‘TWO-WAY STREET FOR NATO PROCUREMENT’ SUBJECT, WHILE NOT REALLY BUYING VERY MUCH. Those A/C aren’t actually bad A/C, but the professionalism of the Coasties flying them is the real reason they have a high sortie rate. . . that, and a reminder of Coast Guard thinking, “You have to go out there. You don’t HAVE to come back.”

  14. Derrek says:
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    I would like to send my condolences to the three coasties who gave their lives. May you have fair winds and following seas shipmates. you will always be remembered as HEROES!

  15. changwang12 says:
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    I guess since the officers were found theres no need to look for the lowly enlisted guy. BS! Funny how they stopped searching for him almost immediatly after they were found. And, the 65 is a good helicopter. I dont think sikorsky makes a helo small enough to fit on the back of uscg cutters. also, the coast guard 65 is so weighed down with outdated avionics that all the upgrades they did when they got the turbomeca engines is now null and void. unfortunatly i feel this is going to keep happening because someone thought it was a great idea to add 5 or 6 different missions to the already task saturated uscg. It’s ridiculous.

  16. changwang12 says:
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    I guess since the officers were found theres no need to look for the lowly enlisted guy. BS! Funny how they stopped searching for him almost immediatly after they were found. And, the 65 is a good helicopter. I dont think sikorsky makes a helo small enough to fit on the back of uscg cutters. also, the coast guard 65 is so weighed down with outdated avionics that all the upgrades they did when they got the turbomeca engines is now null and void. unfortunatly i feel this is going to keep happening because someone thought it was a great idea to add 5 or 6 different missions to the already task saturated uscg. It’s ridiculous.

  17. Sherri Principe says:
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    To Changwang first of all you are an idiot!!! They have turned to a recovery due to the condition of the other memebers of the crews condition. Unless you are part of this search you have no clue. Not to mention the tornadoes we have been under for 24 hours. This community is all heartbroken over this crash. We are a Coast Guard community and love our coasties dearly. There have been hundreds of people volunteers on the scene this the time of the crash. Please don’t disrespect this missing gentleman’s family by saying he isn’t just as important as the rest of the crew. Rank means nothing when it comes to saving lives. Get your facts straight you are disgusting…..

  18. Gerry McGill says:
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    To Changwang12. I think it unfair and hope it was based on a misunderstanding to criticize the Coast Guard for stating the were entering into a salvage and recovery mode instead of a search and rescue operation. I am a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and a former Commanding Officer of two CG cutters. I have done search and rescue work on numerous occasions. I can assure you we would never leave anyone behind, least of all one of our own. That is why I set out the CG and other units involved: One 87′ patrol boat, 3 helicopters, 2 from New Orleans, 1 from St. Petersburg, and the CG dive team from San Diego, CA. among others.

  19. Chari says:
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    Being an Coast Guard Mom and Sister my heart and prayers go out to both families…The Crews personal families and their Coast Guard family. My Brother was a Rescue Swimmer for many years and still knows and has to back and forth to work with many of the crew in Mobile. I know how and remember how very hard it was when he was out for a training mission or for a real search and rescue. We lived in Mobile for many years so I still feel as if Mobile is one of my homes.
    This is not the time to be blaming Helicopters, whether it was the reason or not. This is the time to be focusing on the families that need your support right now and your prayers! The rest of the facts will come out in the end when the black box is opened and we truly know what happened.

  20. Lively says:
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    I was stationed at Mobile ATC years ago…my condolences…my heart goes out to the families and the people that have lost four friends and fellow coasties….

  21. Stacy says:
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    My condolences to the family of the men that were on the helicopter. I went into the Coast Guard when I had graduated high school, and it was a very learning experience. I hope that they recover the missing crew member, so his family can have piece of mind and closure. It doesnt matter where the helicopter has come from, what matters is the loss of life. Everyone needs to stick together and give the families and the base thier comfort and support to help them get over the tragedy. I do hope the President goes to the funeral or memorial service to give everyone involved his support.

  22. Gary Eberling says:
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    Condolences to the families of some of our nation’s finest! Both my daughter and son-in-law are USCG officers. While at the USCG Academy my daughter trained one summer at ATC Mobile and brought me a USCG ATC-Mobile cap. I will wear it all this week in memory of those lost souls! God bless each of then and their families.

  23. Gary Eberling says:
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    Condolences to the families of some of our nation’s finest! Both my daughter and son-in-law are USCG officers. While at the USCG Academy my daughter trained one summer at ATC Mobile and brought me a USCG ATC-Mobile cap. I will wear it all this week in memory of those lost souls! God bless each of then and their families.

  24. John Collins says:
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    Why was search discontinued after officers found ,but e-3 left to rot.

  25. tony says:
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    The men that lived there mission to the fullest deserved to be honered by every U.S. citizen. This is the kinda thing that should make headlines and great men like this would not ask for that,but they damn well deserve it! Bless them and there family’s. USS AMERICA CV66 1979-81

  26. Mike Thomas says:
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    Glad they arre dead,the Coast guard are Communist,they are immuned to the constitution of America,they do not have to abide to Posse Commatades!!

  27. Mike Thomas says:
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    Glad they arre dead,the Coast guard are Communist,they are immuned to the constitution of America,they do not have to abide to Posse Commatades!!

  28. diane sheppard says:
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    My prayers and sincere sympathy go to the family of these brave men. I am a grandmother to a wonderful Coastie and I know things can happen, my prayers are always with these men and women who so bravley protect us. God Bless Them.

  29. Roo says:
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    To Mike Davis, what makes them communists? That statement doesn’t even make sense in the least. Also, Posse Comitatus, doesn’t apply to the Navy or Marine Corps either. So if that’s what you’re basing your “communist” statement on, it’s a pretty convoluted statement. Also, to say you’re glad they are dead, why? Because it has been decided they do not need to abide by that act? That was decided by Congress, not the servicemen. Yours was just an ignorant statement.

  30. gary wigen says:
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    first of all, my condolances go out to the cg and personal families of those poor souls.I feel your loss also, let me say that in no way would the coast guard leave one of there own behind without good reason, (i.e. could not find them with the conditions that they are having!!!!!) I have flown in the old sikorsky’s and know that the c.g. would do nothing less than to give their people only the best equipment that money could buy.. God bless the people that were lost, the families of the victims, and the rest of the base that is in mourning right now.
    and mike thomas you are a world class idiot!!! and that is all your comment is worth!

  31. Scott says:
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    My thoughts and prayers go out to the the families and the units of the MH65 crew. I was once stationed at ATC Mobile as an HS3.
    God bless you brothers and rest in peace. Semper Paratus!

  32. tlctammy says:
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    May the souls of these heroic men rest in peace and may their families be comforted by the love of God. My heart goes out to you all. My father was stationed out of Mobile many years ago and had to crash land a Sikorsky in the Mobile Bay. Fortunately, he and his crew all survived. He also survived a crash in the Antartica. Throughout his long SAR career, he survived the only two crashes he was involved in. For this, I am grateful. Interestingly, they were both during the two years he was stationed in Mobile.

  33. Tony says:
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    Mike T,you are proof not everyone should be allowed citizenship,do the world a favor, Die!

  34. up arrow

    TlcTammy — Was your father’s last name Conley -? if so – I flew with him in Sav — just know he crashed one in the Anartic –

    I pray for peace for the families -

  35. up arrow

    TlcTammy — Was your father’s last name Conley -? if so – I flew with him in Sav — just know he crashed one in the Anartic –

    I pray for peace for the families -

  36. up arrow

    TlcTammy — Was your father’s last name Conley -? if so – I flew with him in Sav — just know he crashed one in the Anartic –

    I pray for peace for the families -

  37. up arrow

    TlcTammy — Was your father’s last name Conley -? if so – I flew with him in Sav — just know he crashed one in the Anartic –

    I pray for peace for the families -

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    TlcTammy — Was your father’s last name Conley -? if so – I flew with him in Sav — just know he crashed one in the Anartic –

    I pray for peace for the families -

  39. Really!!!!!!!! says:
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    Mike Thomas you are a sick being!!! I hope your comment on here starts and investigation on you and your morbid thinking. You would have to be a dumb and as stupid to have made that comment on here. Real smart thinker!!! I hope the Government has started and is already checking into you!!!

  40. Gerry McGill says:
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    To mike thomas. I am saddened by your post. How many people do you know that would risk their lives to save you? The Coast Guard is one of those organizations along with EMTs, fire departments, police agencies, national guardsmen and numerous others who would. If you or your family were in danger we would come regardless of your politics or beliefs.

  41. tlctammy says:
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    Yes, Joe, his last name was Conerly. He passed away in December. Did you also go to the Antartica?

  42. tlctammy says:
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    Went back and re-read your comment, Joe. I was thinking Mobile, not Sav, when I asked about the Antartica.

  43. tlctammy says:
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    So true, Gerry. Coasties often put their own lives at risk to save another. I know my father often did and he was grateful for every life he saved and saddened by those he could not. There are many people whose lives have been continued because of the fine men and women who are Always Ready.

  44. up arrow

    He was a great guy – Nickname “crash” -we flew together a lot ( I was the crewman – I was not in the antartic with him – but the word was it was the only Coast Guard monument – since the helicopter is still there – we flew a pregnant lady off of an Island in South Carolina one night — after we picked he and the midwife up on a very dark night we took off and almost hit the trees– you dad told me I had just come as close to dieing as I ever had — he was my favorite pilot ever —- Joe

  45. tlctammy says:
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    Yes, Joe, his helo, Dog II, R.I.P.s on Mt Erebus.
    Please contact me at tlctammy2007@yahoo.com. Also, if there are any other Coasties who see this and served with my dad, please email me. I am trying to gather more information from those who served with him.