Four people were killed in a helicopter crash at a U.S. naval base in Hawaii during a training operation, navy officials said.
The tragic incident occurred around 10 a.m. local time Tuesday at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) in Kauai near the north side of The Barking Sands installation, according to a statement from the PMRF in Kauai County obtained by EuroWeeklyNews.
The military-contracted helicopter, a Sikorsky S-61N operated by Croman Corporation, had just retrieved an object from the water and was trying to drop it on the ground when something went wrong, Brian Beattie, director of operations for Croman Corp. told Hawaii News Now.
According to online flight logs, the helicopter left the Kauai facility at 9:24 a.m. It had been in the air for 55 minutes when trouble ensued. The chopper had flown a total of 83 miles, the news outlet reported.
County police and firefighters responded and were assisting the military, according to a Kauai County spokesperson, the Associated Press reported.
There were no survivors. All four crew members were killed. Their names were not yet available, the news outlet reported.
Beattie confirmed that all four fatalities were employees of the Croman Corp., ABC News reported.
The Croman Corporation provides a range of support services and manages Sikorsky S-61N helicopters, a PMRF spokesperson told ABC.
A spokesperson with the Pacific Missile Range Facility said an investigation is underway to determine the cause of the crash, ABC reported.
The National Transportation Safety Board said in a statement that they were investigating the crash. The Federal Aviation Administration is also investigating the incident, Beattie said.
Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami offered his condolences to the families and friends of those who were lost in a statement Tuesday.
“I know there are no words that can express the extent of what you are going through or provide the solace that you need, but please know that our entire community is here for you. We offer our partners at PMRF any resources they may need, and we offer the families involved our deepest condolences during this difficult time,” Kawakami said.
The Pacific Missile Range Facility is located on the western edge of Kauai. It is used by the military to perform missile defense technology, and conduct training exercises, the Associated Press reported.
According to their site, the PMRF is “the world’s largest instrumented, multi-dimensional testing and training missile range.” PMRF is the only range in the world where submarines, surface ships, aircraft and space vehicles can operate and be tracked simultaneously. There are over 1,100 square miles of instrumented underwater range and over 42,000 square miles of controlled airspace. The base itself covers roughly 2,385 acres.