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Reserve rescue assists with search for cargo ship

Air Force Reserve aircrew members load cannisters of sea dye into the flare launcher system of an HC-130P/N King aircraft prior to launching a search-and-rescue mission. The dye, which spreads into a large, bright flourescent green patch in seawater, is used to mark the location of a survivor during a search operation. The reservists are members of the 920th Rescue Wing, the Air Force Reserve’s only rescue unit. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Paul Flipse)

Air Force Reserve aircrew members load cannisters of sea dye into the flare launcher system of an HC-130P/N King aircraft prior to launching a search-and-rescue mission. The dye, which spreads into a large, bright flourescent green patch in seawater, is used to mark the location of a survivor during a search operation. The reservists are members of the 920th Rescue Wing, the Air Force Reserve’s only rescue unit. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Paul Flipse)

Loadmastsers with the 920th Rescue Wing inspect two RAMZ packs (Rigged Alternate Method Zodiac) in the back of a wing HC-130P/N King aircraft prior to a search-and-rescue mission. The packs each contain an inflatable Zodiac boat, an oxygen tank to inflate the boat, an outboard motor for the boat and medical equipment. When a survivor is spotted in the ocean, the RAMZ are pushed from the rear of the aircraft to parachute into the sea below. A team of pararescuemen follow, and once they’ve parachuted into the ocean, they assemble the RAMZ and use it to reach and rescue the survivor. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Paul Flipse)

Loadmastsers with the 920th Rescue Wing inspect two RAMZ packs (Rigged Alternate Method Zodiac) in the back of a wing HC-130P/N King aircraft prior to a search-and-rescue mission. The packs each contain an inflatable Zodiac boat, an oxygen tank to inflate the boat, an outboard motor for the boat and medical equipment. When a survivor is spotted in the ocean, the RAMZ are pushed from the rear of the aircraft to parachute into the sea below. A team of pararescuemen follow, and once they’ve parachuted into the ocean, they assemble the RAMZ and use it to reach and rescue the survivor. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Paul Flipse)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Air Force Reserve aircrew members load cannisters of sea dye into the flare launcher system of an HC-130P/N King aircraft prior to launching a search-and-rescue mission. The dye, which spreads into a large, bright flourescent green patch in seawater, is used to mark the location of a survivor during a search operation. The reservists are members of the 920th Rescue Wing, the Air Force Reserve’s only rescue unit. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Paul Flipse)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Air Force Reserve aircrew members load cannisters of sea dye into the flare launcher system of an HC-130P/N King aircraft prior to launching a search-and-rescue mission. The dye, which spreads into a large, bright flourescent green patch in seawater, is used to mark the location of a survivor during a search operation. The reservists are members of the 920th Rescue Wing, the Air Force Reserve’s only rescue unit. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Paul Flipse)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

The 920th Rescue Wing deployed an aircraft Tuesday in support of the search for possible survivors from the cargo ship El Faro, which is believed to have sunk during Hurricane Joaquin.

A wing aircrew departed from here in an HC-130P/N King aircraft today at approximately 10:45 a.m. with two 4-man pararescue teams on board.

The Reserve wing joins Coast Guard and Navy rescue crews, who have searched 160,574 square nautical miles in the vicinity of the ship's last known position 35 nautical miles northeast of Crooked Islands, Bahamas.

The Coast Guard located a deceased person in a survival suit in the water Sunday during their search.

A heavily damaged life boat with markings consistent with those on board the El Faro was also located Sunday. Additional items located by Coast Guard aircrews within search areas include a partially submerged life raft, life jackets, life rings, cargo containers and an oil sheen.

The El Faro, a 790-foot roll on, roll off, cargo ship, departed Jacksonville, Florida, Sept. 29, en route to San Juan, Puerto Rico. At approximately 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Coast Guard Atlantic Area command center

in Portsmouth, Virginia, received a satellite notification stating the El Faro was being overwhelmed by Hurricane Joaquin, had lost propulsion and was listing 15 degrees. 

Breaking news: The Coast Guard announced Wednesday it was calling off the search for the missing vessel at sunset.   "The decision to end a search is painful, but it based on the art and science of rescue," said U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Mark Fedor during an afternoon press conference. "A person could only survive 4-5 hours at sea even in favorable conditions."

The crew abandoned ship in the midst of a category 4 hurricane.

(Information from an official U.S. Coast Guard news release was used in this article.)