MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft stand ready on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard on April 16 to aide in the rescue efforts for the Korean passenger ship Sewol. (MC2 Adam D. Wainwright/Navy)
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The amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard is helping search for hundreds of passengers missing from the Sewol, a South Korean ferry that capsized and sank Wednesday.
The Sewol had more than 450 passengers on board, including several hundred high school students on a field trip. Close to 300 passengers are still missing, according to media reports.
“The Bonhomme Richard has been assigned a search area five to 15 nautical miles from the shipwreck site,” according to a news release Thursday from U.S. Naval Forces Korea. “Two MH-60 Seahawk helicopters from the ship are conducting search and rescue operations within the assigned search area.”
The ship also has MV-22 Ospreys, CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters and small boats that could be used in search and rescue efforts, the news release said. The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit is embarked on the Bonhomme Richard, which was on patrol along with the amphibious transport dock Denver and dock landing ship Ashland when it was diverted to the scene of the area where the Sewol sank.
“Our partners in the Republic of Korea coast guard and navy have the lead during this operation and the South Korean responders have been very efficient with their efforts,” said Capt. Joey Tynch, commanding officer of Bonhomme Richard, in the Thursday news release. “We remain ready to offer whatever help is required. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the passengers and crew of Sewol and their families.”
The Bonhomme Richard is based out of Sasebo, Japan, as part of the 7th Fleet.