Coast Guard suspends search for 12 missing Marines
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Coast Guard suspends search for 12 missing Marines

  • KRYSTLE MARCELLUS / KMARCELLUS@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Beachgoers at Turtle Bay watched as personnel continued their search for 12 U.S. Marines and helicopter debris along the North Shore on Monday.

    KRYSTLE MARCELLUS / KMARCELLUS@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Beachgoers at Turtle Bay watched as personnel continued their search for 12 U.S. Marines and helicopter debris along the North Shore on Monday.

  • DENNIS ODA/DODA@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Marines use all-terrain vehicles to coverrough terrain as they travel to Kaena Point to search for helicopter crash debris today.

    DENNIS ODA/DODA@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Marines use all-terrain vehicles to coverrough terrain as they travel to Kaena Point to search for helicopter crash debris today.

  • COURTESY U.S. COAST GUARD
                                Brig. Gen. Russell Sandborn, commanding general, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Okinawa, Japan, and Capt. Jim Jenkins, chief of staff, Coast Guard 14th District, receive information about the ongoing search for 12 missing Marines during a briefing at the incident command post in Haleiwa today.

    COURTESY U.S. COAST GUARD

    Brig. Gen. Russell Sandborn, commanding general, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Okinawa, Japan, and Capt. Jim Jenkins, chief of staff, Coast Guard 14th District, receive information about the ongoing search for 12 missing Marines during a briefing at the incident command post in Haleiwa today.

  • 2016 January 18 CTY - Honolulu Star-Advertiser photo by Krystle Marcellus

Beachgoers at Turtle Bay watched as personnel continued their search for 12 U.S. Marines and helicopter debris along the North Shore on Monday, January 18, 2016. Two CH-53E helicopters impacted the water off the coast of Haleiwa on January 14, leaving 12 missing.
    2016 January 18 CTY - Honolulu Star-Advertiser photo by Krystle Marcellus Beachgoers at Turtle Bay watched as personnel continued their search for 12 U.S. Marines and helicopter debris along the North Shore on Monday, January 18, 2016. Two CH-53E helicopters impacted the water off the coast of Haleiwa on January 14, leaving 12 missing.
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The U.S. Coast Guard suspended the search for the 12 missing Marines off Haleiwa at sunset.

“The decision to suspend the search without finding survivors is particularly difficult,” said U.S. Coast Guard Capt. James Jenkins.

A search, led by the Marine Corps, will continue for debris and remains, but the focus of the search is changing to a recovery and salvage operation.

An inquiry board will investigate the crash and come up with recommendations and findings.

Some aircraft debris has been recovered from the ocean floor about 2 miles from shore in 350 feet of water, Jenkins said.

A high surf warning is posted for Wednesday as wave faces are expected to rise to 30 to 40 feet on the North Shore, a factor which would have complicated the search had it continued Wednesday.

The Coast Guard and other agencies searched for five days since two Kaneohe-base Marine Super Stallion helicopters crashed last week in the ocean about 2 miles from shore.

All four life rafts were recovered, but they were empty and there is no indication anyone had been on any of the rafts, based on their condition and lack of any personal effects, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Tara Mole.

A good Samaritan spotted the final raft on Monday afternoon, and a Coast Guard vessel recovered it 3 miles north of Oahu.

The search has covered 24,150 square miles of ocean and shoreline between Haleiwa and Kahuku.

The CH-53E helicopters carrying six crew members each failed to return to Marine Corps Base Hawaii following a nighttime training mission Thursday. Hours later, authorities spotted debris 2 1/2 miles off the coast.

Some of the life rafts were inflated, but it was unclear how they got that way. There are various ways that could happen, including a cord being pulled by debris, said Marine Capt. Timothy Irish.

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The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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