Helicopters that took place in search for Malaysia Airlines jet to return home after deployment

CORONADO – Two detachments of Coronado-based helicopters that both took part in the search for the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet that went missing in March are scheduled to return home today from separate but simultaneous seven-month deployments.

Personnel with Detachments 1 and 2 of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 78 are scheduled to fly to their home base at Naval Air Station North Island after having served aboard the guided-missile destroyers USS Pinckney and USS Kidd.

The destroyers are set to sail home Thursday. They were conducting training missions in the South China Sea when the jumbo jet disappeared. Both ships sent their MH-60R Seahawk helicopters on search missions for the missing aircraft. The choppers searched around 1,500 square miles per day, according to the Navy.

”Our helicopters are an extension of the ship’s capabilities and provided us with the best chance to find aircraft debris,” said Lt. j.g. Eric Bachtel, the Combat Information Center officer aboard the Kidd.

The wreckage of the Boeing 777, carrying 239 passengers and crew on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, still hasn’t been found.

HSM-78’s helicopters conduct anti-submarine missions and combat operations against surface ships. The Seahawks also perform search and rescue missions, replenish supplies, provide naval surface fire support, evacuate wounded personnel, and offer relays for communications and data transfers.

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