San Diego-based destroyer to search for missing Malaysia plane

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110727-N-RR095-001SAN DIEGO – The San Diego-based USS Pinckney (DDG-91) and its two helicopters moved towards Vietnam’s southern coast to assist in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer had been conducting training and maritime security operations in international waters of the South China Sea, when it was diverted to aid in the search for the Boeing 777,according to the Navy.

Commander Frank E. Okata posted a message on the ship’s Facebook page.¬† “As you have come to expect your PINCKNEY Sailors are focused and performing the tasks in which they have prepared for many years.”

The passenger jet went missing while en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Beijing with 239 people on board. Vietnamese Air Force pilots spotted a 12-mile-long oil slick in the Gulf Of Thailand, south of Vietnam.

Three American citizens were initially listed on the passenger manifest.

Navy officials said this morning they expected the Pinckney to be in the vicinity of where the jet went missing within 24 hours. On its flight deck are two MH-60R helicopters equipped for search and rescue missions.

The Pinckney’s about 300 sailors left Naval Base San Diego in January for a seven month deployment, according to the Navy.

The Navy was also sending a P-3C Orion aircraft, which have long-range search, radar and communications capabilities, from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, officials said.