San Diego-based destroyer USS Sampson to help search for AirAsia plane

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The San Diego-based destroyer USS Sampson was sent Monday to the search area for the Air Asia passenger jet that went missing Sunday amid stormy weather off Indonesia.

The Airbus A-320 carrying 162 passengers disappeared from radar screens minutes after the pilot requested an altitude change because of the weather conditions. The aircraft was a little over 40 minutes into a flight to Singapore from Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city.

The Navy said Indonesian authorities requested assistance. The 509-foot Sampson, which left San Diego Oct. 31 on an independent deployment, is carrying a detachment from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 35, based at Naval Air Station North Island.

Navy officials are working with Indonesian authorities to determine whether any other U.S. surface or airborne assets would be helpful in the search.

The head of the rescue effort has said the aircraft is probably “at the bottom of the sea.”

The pilot’s request for a change in altitude was denied because six other airplanes were in the area at higher flight levels. No other communications were heard, according to news reports.

Sampson is the fourth U.S. destroyer named after Rear Adm. William Thomas Sampson, whose naval service lasted from 1857 until 1902, including command of the North Atlantic during the Spanish-American War in 1898.

Categories: KUSI