The United States Navy

Navy expands search for debris
at Alaska Airlines Flight 261 crash scene

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Aboard M/V Independence, Feb. 8, 2000 — The U.S. Navy's Deep Drone Remotely Operated Vehicle recovers a piece of aircraft's fairing from the tail section on the ill fated Alaska Airlines Flight 261. The recovery crew are operating aboard M/V Independence off the southern California coast. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 1st Class Spike Call. [000208-N-5961C-002] Feb. 8, 2000. Hi-Rez.

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Aboard M/V Kellie Chouest, Feb. 3, 2000 — The flight data recorder from Alaska Airlines Flight 261 rests in the mechanical arms of Scorpio, a Tethered Unmanned Work Vehicle, aboard MV Kellie Chouest. Scorpio is operated by the Navy's Deep Submergence Unit Unmanned Vehicle Detachment. The flight deck recorder was recovered about noon (PST) Thursday following the recovery Wednesday of the cockpit voice recorder. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 1st Class Spike Call. [000203-N-5961C-006] Feb. 3, 2000. Hi-Rez.

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Washington, D.C., Feb. 10, 2000 — Navy crews, having recovered pieces of the tail section of Alaska Airlines Flight 261 which crashed off the coast of California Jan. 31, have expanded the search for wreckage in an area of about 4 miles south of the original debris field at the request of the National Transportation Safety Board.

Crews aboard the M/V Independence, owned by the Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center in Port Hueneme, and operated under contract by Mar, Inc., and operating the Deep Drone ROV, one of the Navy's most capable ROVs, have recovered pieces of the aircraft's tail section and the aircraft's jackscrew, an important controling device, which may shed light on the cause of the crash for the NTSB.

The jackscrew, which looks like the screw control for automatic garage doors, moves an aircraft's horizontal stabilizer up or down on command from the pilots.

The Deep Drone is owned by Navy Supervisor of Diving and Salvage, and operated under contract by Oceaneering, The crews, using Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and side-scanning sonar mapped the debris field to provide the NTSB with as complete a picture of the debris field as possible before any salvage efforts began. The wreckage is located in about 650 feet of water.

Navy personnel from the Navy's Deep Submergence Unit (DSU), working aboard the motor vessel Kellie Chouest, a civilian research and salvage ship based at the Naval Air Station North Island, recovered the cockpit voice recorder Feb. 2 and the flight data recorder Feb. 3, using the ROV Scorpio I. The recorders were transported to the NTSB headquarters in Washington, D.C., for analysis.

The amphibious transport dock ship USS Cleveland (LPD 7), homeported at San Diego, is also on scene and provides support for small boats and aircraft from Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 11 at Naval Air Station North Island.

The first Navy units on the scene were a P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft from the Naval Air Station, Point Mugu; an HH-60 Seahawk from Helicopter Combat Support Special Squadron 5, also from Point Mugu; and an S-3B Viking patrol aircraft from the Naval Air Station, North Island, Calif.

Flight 261 was on a flight from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, to San Francisco when it crashed about 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles International Airport around 4:30 p.m. Jan. 31.


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