Friday, October 23, 2009

Black Hawk Helicopter Crashes on Navy ship

1 dead, 8 injured in helicopter crash on Navy ship

NORFOLK, Va. — An Army Black Hawk helicopter crashed on a Navy ship during training, killing one service member and injuring eight, the Navy said.

Service members were rappelling down a rope from the helicopter to the USNS Arctic around 8 p.m. Thursday off the Virginia coast near Fort Story when the crash happened, Navy spokeswoman Lt. J. G. Megan Issac said.

The helicopter crashed into the ship's stern and ended up on its side, Rear Adm. Mark H. Buzby, commander of the Military Sealift Command, said at a news conference Friday morning at Naval Station Norfolk. A small fire on the ship's deck was quickly extinguished.

The cause of the crash was being investigated.

A second helicopter took the injured people to a hospital for treatment. None had life threatening injuries, Issac said.

Names of the dead and injured and their service affiliations were not immediately released.

"We deeply regret that it occurred, but unfortunately, it is part of the business we do at sea," Buzby said.

Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Phil Rosi said the training exercise involved the two Army helicopters and members of a Naval Special Warfare unit.

"It was a routine visit, board, search and seizure exercise that takes place between Army and Navy units on a fairly regular basis," Buzby said, adding that ships like the Arctic are used because they are similar to merchant ships.

The exercise trains the service members on how to quickly board a ship that might be threatened by pirates or terrorists, for instance, Buzby said.

The Arctic has returned to Naval Station Norfolk, and the damaged helicopter remained aboard the ship.

The Arctic was damaged and will be repaired quickly. Its deck had superficial damage where the helicopter landed, but the ship's propulsion was not affected.

Officials said the Arctic has no official home port but frequents naval stations in Norfolk and Earle, N.J.

The Associated Press

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