NAVY ENDS SEARCH FOR MISSING PILOT FROM JETS THAT COLLIDED AT SEA

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SHAFAQNA – The U.S. Navy ended its unsuccessful search Saturday for the missing pilot of one of two U.S. Navy FA-18C Hornet fighter jets that collided in the western Pacific after taking off from the deck of the USS Carl Vinson, a San Diego-based aircraft carrier. 

The two jets crashed about seven miles after launching from the Carl Vinson’s flight deck at 5:40 p.m. Thursday, according to the Navy. The aircraft carrier was about 250 nautical miles west of Wake Island. 

One pilot was quickly located and returned to the aircraft carrier to receive medical attention, according to the Navy. That pilot, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 113, was released from medical facilities aboard the ship. 

The other pilot, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 94, was presumed dead. 

“This is an exceptionally difficult time for the friends and family of the missing pilot and the Navy community,” said the commander of the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group, Rear Adm. Christopher Grady. “Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this tragedy.” 

It is unknown if either jet — both were assigned to Carrier Air Wing 17 based at Naval Air Station Lemoore — were recovered. 

The guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill, guided-missile destroyer USS Gridley and helicopters from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 15 and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 73 assisted in the search for the missing pilot, Navy officials said. 

The crash came as the Carl Vinson and Carrier Air Wing 17, which includes nine fixed-wing and helicopter squadrons, were supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, according to the Navy. 

The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group departed San Diego Aug. 22 for deployment in the Western Pacific and Middle East. The vessels in the strike force include the Carl Vinson, the Bunker Hill and guided-missile destroyers USS Gridley, USS Sterett and USS Dewey.

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