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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.

34 Comments

  1. Gravatar for easy

    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. Gravatar for joe somerville

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

    Joe Somerville

    AM2 Search & Rescue Aircrew Veteran

    HH52A - Helo

  3. Gravatar for Fopper

    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.

  4. Gravatar for Josh Ellis

    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.

  5. Gravatar for Billy

    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.

  6. Gravatar for Sunday Evans

    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!

  7. Gravatar for Doug Turk

    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.

  8. Gravatar for Jase

    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."

  9. Gravatar for Derrek

    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!

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