Sunday, January 04, 2015

USS Fort Worth Joins Sampson in Search Efforts

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Jan. 4, 2015 – The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth has joined the guided missile destroyer USS Sampson in the Java Sea to assist in the Indonesian-led international search-and-recovery effort for downed AirAsia Flight 8501, according to a U.S. 7th Fleet news release issued yesterday.

This morning the Sampson’s commander, Navy Cmdr. Steven M. Foley, discussed current search efforts with ABC’s “This Week” weekend news program host Martha Raddatz.

“We've been searching using lookouts, using optical search equipment and scanning the horizon and using our helicopters in tandem to search a wide area,” Foley told Raddatz today.

Rough Weather

“The weather has been a little rough with scattered thunderstorms,” the commander said. “The seas have been about two to four feet, increasing to about four to six feet when the rain swells come in. And we've been operating in three specified areas that the Indonesian authorities have assigned to us.

“And you have to remember,” Foley added, “this is their search effort and we're here to assist.”

Ships are being employed to search for the downed aircraft’s black box and the helicopters are looking for debris, Foley told Raddatz. Rigid-hull inflatable boats are also participating in the search effort, he added.

The Indonesian government requested U.S. assistance to help in the search for Air Asia Flight 8501, which disappeared Dec. 28 during its route from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore with 162 passengers and crew aboard.

The San Diego-based USS Sampson, an Arleigh Burke-class Aegis guided missile destroyer, was deployed Dec. 29 to assist in the search efforts for the Airbus A320-216 aircraft, according to a U.S. Navy news release. Since then, searchers have found debris and passenger remains from the aircraft, which apparently crashed during its flight during bad weather.

Remains, Debris Found

The Sampson arrived in the Java Sea search area on Dec. 30, according to a U.S. Navy release. Later that day, the Sampson’s helicopters and Indonesian navy assets discovered aircraft debris.

The Sampson’s crew also removed six remains from the sea Jan. 1 and six others Jan. 2, according to a U.S. Navy release.

“We find great gratification in being able to assist the Indonesian government in this ongoing effort and to bring closure to the family and friends of the passengers of AirAsia Flight 8501,” Foley told Raddatz.