No injuries as a result of Coast Guard MH-60 “mishap” near Chiniak

A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak helicopter experienced a mishap on Sunday afternoon during a training exercise on Cape Chiniak, about an hour’s drive from the city of Kodiak.

A team of two pilots and one crew member was landing an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter in a confined area  when the aircraft hit some trees.

A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew conducts inland search and rescue and mountain landing training in Kodiak, Alaska, Nov. 21, 2018. (Photo by Lt. Jeff Mistrick)

“The helicopter rotor blades made contact with some trees and sustained damage,” Coast Guard Petty Officer Nate Littlejohn said Monday. “The aircraft landed safely following the mishap”

Littlejohn said no one was reported injured, but the crew members were taken to the medical clinic on Kodiak’s base as a precaution. The Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the accident, which is currently unknown.

“It’s interviewing people involved. It’s people going to the scene to investigate evidence, to look at damage to … trees, and to the aircraft as well,” said Littlejohn.

The damaged helicopter is still parked on land owned by the native corporation Leisnoi, Inc. Littlejohn said the Coast Guard has an agreement with the corporation to use its land for training. Other than the trees hit by the helicopter’s blades, he says no land or infrastructure was damaged.

Leisnoi, Inc. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The helicopter is still being assessed for damage. Littlejohn said it’s not yet clear whether it can be fixed on site or whether it will have to be transported back to the base for repairs.

According to Littlejohn, Coast Guard helicopter mishaps are “pretty rare.” Still, this is the second helicopter mishap in a little over a year, after a Kodiak-based MH-60 sustained damage while on the ground in Cordova last April. Though few details were released about that incident, no injuries were reported and the helicopter has since been repaired. Littlejohn said there is no correlation between Sunday’s mishap and the incident in Cordova last year.

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