Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The U.S. Navy salvage ship USS Safeguard is sailing to South Korea to help in recovering the wreckage of the ferry that sank on Wednesday, the Pentagon said on Monday.
The Safeguard is moving from Thailand, according to Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren , though the South Korean government has yet to formally request help from the U.S. in the recovery of the Sewol, which was carrying 476 passengers, mostly schoolchildren on holiday trip to Jeju Island.
The Safeguard can salvage or repair ships crippled in combat anywhere in the world. It can lift, tow and conduct diving operations.
The U.S. Navy already deployed the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard to the site of the accident off the southwestern island of Jindo and the vessel’s helicopters and divers are helping in the search for 302 missing passengers, said Warren. The Japan-based Bonhomme Richard was conducting a routine patrol in the Yellow Sea Wednesday when the Sewol began sinking about 100 nautical miles or 115 miles away.
South Korean authorities counted 64 deaths from the accidents as of Monday with 174 rescued.
A total of 212 boats, including 90 Coast Guard vessels, 32 naval ships, 34 aircraft, and 556 military and civilian rescue workers, including divers, are conducting the search inside the vessel.