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U.S. military personnel rescued after helicopter crash in Gulf of Aden

A Marine helicopter crashed into the sea while attempting to land aboard a transport dock ship. All 25 personnel aboard were rescued.
By Gabrielle Levy   |   Sept. 2, 2014 at 12:09 PM

MANAMA, Bahrain, Sept. 2 (UPI) -- All 25 military personnel aboard a U.S. Marine helicopter that crashed into the Arabian Sea during a training exercise Monday are safe, a Navy spokesman said.

None of the 17 Marines or eight Navy sailors was seriously injured when the CH-53E Super Stallion hit the water while attempting to land on the USS Mesa Verde in the Gulf of Aden, near Djibouti.

"The crash was not a result of hostile activity," a statement from the Navy said, confirming the incident. "Personnel who sustained minor injuries in the crash were treated aboard the USS Mesa Verde."

Lt. Joe Hontz, U.S. 5th Fleet spokesman, called it "an absolute blessing" no one was more seriously hurt or killed.

"The team on the Mesa Verde and everyone else came together and saved 25 people," he said.

The Navy and Marine Corps will investigate the cause of the crash.

The Mesa Verde is part of the Norfolk, Va.-based Bataan amphibious ready group assigned the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, which includes the USS Bataan amphibious assault ship and the USS Gunston Hall dock landing ship.

The Bataan ready group deployed February 8 and has spent most of the time since in the Middle East and Mediterranean, where it has responded to several contingency operations. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Sunday ordered a 21-day extension for the ready group and is expected to be replaced by the Makin Island amphibious ready group, already en route to the Middle East.

Follow @gabbilevy and @UPI on Twitter.
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