Five sailors declared dead in Navy helicopter crash off Southern California

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The U.S. Navy has declared five missing sailors dead and shifted from rescue to recovery operations, days after a Navy helicopter crashed in the ocean off Southern California on Tuesday.

The names of the sailors will not be released until their next of kin have been notified, according to a Saturday statement from the U.S. Navy.

One sailor was rescued shortly after the MH-60S helicopter crashed Tuesday afternoon and was in stable condition at a San Diego hospital, according to a statement from the Navy's Pacific fleet.

Five sailors on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, where the helicopter was operating before the crash, were also injured. Two of them were treated at a San Diego hospital while three were treated on site for minor injuries.

The transition to recovery operations for the other five sailors comes after 72 hours of search and rescue efforts using five search helicopters.

The Navy has not released details of how the crash happened but said an investigation is underway.

The helicopter involved in the crash was conducting "routine flight operations" when it crashed, according to Saturday's statement. The MH-60S helicopter usually carries four crew members and is used in combat support, humanitarian disaster relief, and search and rescue operations. 

This September 7, 2013 handout image provided by the US Navy shows an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the Indians of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 6 preparing to land on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68).

Contributing: The Associated Press

Contact News Now Reporter Christine Fernando at or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.

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