The cause of the crash was not immediately clear. In a statement, the Navy’s Third Fleet said the helicopter “crashed into the sea” at 4:30 p.m. local time while it was conducting “routine flight operations” about 60 nautical miles off the coast.
Search efforts were ongoing early Wednesday, according to the Navy.
Military officials identified the helicopter that crashed as an MH-60S, a model that has been in use since 2002, according to the Naval Air Systems Command.
The helicopter had been assigned to the USS Abraham Lincoln, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier based in San Diego. In a statement on Facebook on Wednesday, Lincoln officials called the crash a “tragedy.”
The 14,000-pound helicopter has a range of 245 nautical miles and can reach a top speed of 180 knots, according to the command.
The Navy has more than 250 MH-60S helicopters in use, according to the Command.
MH-60S helicopters are used for a wide array of purposes, including “vertical replenishment, combat search and rescue, special warfare support and airborne mine countermeasures” according to Naval Technology, a website that reports on military equipment.