Navy ships return Thursday after 7-month deployments

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USS Pickney

SAN DIEGO — San Diego-based naval vessels that took part in the search for the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet that went missing in March are scheduled to return home from separate seven-month deployments on Thursday, the Navy announced.

USS PickneySailors aboard the guided-missile destroyers USS Pinckney and USS Kidd 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.

“Lending support to our regional partners in a time of difficulty is what we do,” said Cmdr. Frank Okata, Pinckney’s commanding officer.

The choppers, based at Naval Air Station North Island, 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 Boeing 777, carrying 239 passengers and crew on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, still hasn’t been found.

The Pinckney is named for Navy cook William Pinckney, who received a Navy cross for his daring rescue of a fellow crewman aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, when it was badly damaged in the Battle of Santa Cruz off the Solomon Islands during World War II.

The Kidd is named for Rear Adm. Isaac Kidd, who was among the 1,177 sailors who died aboard the battleship USS Arizona during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

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