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American Forces Press Service

Navy Assists Ethiopian Airlines Search, Rescue Effort

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 25, 2010 – The U.S. military has dispatched a guided missile destroyer and a patrol aircraft to assist the search-and-rescue effort after an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed into the Mediterranean Sea earlier today.

USS Ramage, a 505-foot-long Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, has been dispatched to the area, Marine Corps Col. David Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters.

Ramage and its crew of more than 200 sailors left Norfolk, Va., Jan. 5 for a regularly scheduled six-month deployment conducting maritime security operations in the Mediterranean. The ship made a port call last week in Naples, Italy, Navy Lt. Patrick Foughty of the U.S. 6th Fleet reported.

A P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft based in Italy also has joined the search-and-rescue effort, Foughty said. The aircraft is assigned to Task Force 67 in Sigonella, Sicily, and was conducting operations in the area when the crash occurred, he said.

Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET409 crashed shortly after takeoff from Beirut. The Boeing 737-800 was headed to Addis Ababa, and reportedly had 90 people aboard.

Lebanese officials reportedly are discounting terrorism as the cause, attributing the crash to a severe thunderstorm.

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