Navy calls off search-and-rescue efforts for missing aviator
A Navy E-2C Hawkeye pilot lost in the north Arabian Sea after his aircraft went down last week was declared dead Saturday after the Navy called off its search.
Navy Lt. Steven Zilberman, 31, was the only member of the four-person crew not to be found after the aircraft went down Wednesday afternoon, about five miles from the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower where it was stationed.
The aircraft was returning from an Afghanistan support mission when it experienced mechanical malfunctions and the crew bailed out. The surviving crewmembers were recovered shortly after the crash and were in good condition.
The malfunction’s cause is under investigation.
Zilberman was born in Ukraine and considered Columbus, Ohio, home. He had served in the Navy for nearly eight years, according to a Navy statement released Saturday.
“This is a heart-wrenching loss for the Zilberman family and the Bluetail family,” Cmdr. Joseph F. Finn, the commanding officer of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 121, Zilberman’s unit, said in the statement. He called Zilberman “a fine aviator” in offering condolences to his family and friends.
Several ships and aircraft searched more than 5,300 square miles for the missing aviator before the search was called off, according to the Navy statement.