U.S. Navy Assists in Search for AirAsia QZ8501 Victims

The United States Navy has deployed two San Diego, California-based combat ships to aid in the search and recovery efforts for AirAsia Flight QZ8501. Both ships will remain in the Java Sea until their assistance is no longer required by the Indonesian authorities, which are leading the efforts to locate the airplane and the 162 people who were on board. QZ8501 vanished on December 28.

The USS Sampson is a guided missile destroyer, which has an MH-60R helicopter attached. That helicopter transferred 12 bodies to the Indonesian authorities on January 1 and 2. The USS Sampson has been on station since December 30 when its crews found debris from the Airbus A320.

The USS Fort Worth is a littoral combat ship that joined the USS Sampson on January 3. It is especially designed for visual and radar searches in congested, shallow water. It also has a MH-60R helicopter and two 36-foot, rigid hull inflatable boats attached.

According to Time magazine, 37 bodies have been recovered so far, but the fuselage of the A320 is still missing. While the Java Sea is shallow, the search efforts have been hampered by poor weather. The water is thick and murky from sludge and sediment brought in by Monsoon rains.

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Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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