The Department of Defense has identified the two San Diego-based sailors killed in a helicopter crash.
Lt. Cmdr. Landon L. Jones, 35, of Lompoc and Chief Warrant Officer Jonathan S. Gibson, 32, of Aurora, Ore. died Sunday in the Red Sea. The Navy called off the search for them Monday.
Jones, Gibson and three other aircrew members were inside the MH-60 Knighthawk helicopter as it attempted to land on USS William P. Lawrence, a destroyer based out of San Diego.
The cause of the crash is under investigation. But it’s believed a large wave caused the deck of the ship to pitch up as the helicopter was touching down, and that it slammed into the deck and rolled into the water.
“Sometimes, you can have this rogue wave that comes,” said Captain Bryan Dudley, a Marine Corps helicopter pilot who has landed on ships. “The smaller the ship, the bigger the effect.”
The three other sailors in the helicopter were found alive.
The Knighthawk assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Six, based out of North Island.
USS William P. Lawrence is on standby for potential military action in Syria as part of the Nimitz strike group. The Navy said the helicopter crash was not the result of any hostile activity.