MANILA - A helicopter of the Royal Australian Navy ditched in the Philippine Sea on Wednesday night, with all of its 3 crew members aboard safe but with minor injuries after the mishap, authorities said on Thursday.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines said the Australian MH-60R Seahawk Helicopter "unfortunately crashed" while transiting the east of Luzon for "regional presence deployment" with Australian ship HMAS Warramunga.
"All three crew members were recovered safely by HMAS Brisbane," said AFP spokesman Col. Ramon Zagala said.
The Australian Navy is still searching for the chopper's debris, the Australian government said in a statement.
It said the crew "ditched" their helicopter in the Philippine Sea. They sustained minor injuries.
It said the helicopter figured in the mishap "during a routine flight overnight," adding that it has suspended flight operations of its fleet of MH-60R helicopters pending results of an investigation.
"The aircraft was operating from HMAS Brisbane as part of a Regional Presence Deployment with HMAS Warramunga, when the crew conducted an emergency landing in the water," the statement read.
Its HMAS Brisbane and HMAS Warramunga are searching for the aircraft's debris that would aid in the investigation.
“With the aircrew safe, investigating the circumstances that led to the helicopter ditching is the priority at the moment,” Rear Admiral Hammond, commander of the Australian Fleet, said.
"Defense is reviewing the impact of the incident on Brisbane and Warramunga’s current deployment."
Zagala said the Philippine military is coordinating with the Australian armed forces on the matter and "has expressed readiness to provide assistance."
"Per report from the Royal Australian Navy, the ships were conducting "a number of navy-to-navy engagements with partner nations" in Southeast and Northeast Asia," Zagala noted.