Navy divers end search of TWA crash site Salvage effort among largest in U.S. history

November 03, 1996|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

NEW YORK -- The Navy has decided to end its efforts to search the Atlantic Ocean for what little is left of TWA Flight 800, a Boeing 747 that exploded off the Long Island coast July 17, killing all 230 people aboard.

Cmdr. Gordon Hume said yesterday morning that divers were expected to end their three-month search of the ocean floor last night or today.

Then, perhaps as early as next week, a "scalloping" trawler will begin to churn the ocean bottom for airplane wreckage that might be buried under silt and sand.

The recovery operation -- led by Navy divers, with assistance from divers from the Suffolk County police and fire departments, tTC the New York Police Department and the New York State Police -- has retrieved more than 95 percent of the jumbo jet, as well as the remains of 214 of the 230 victims.

Still, Rear Adm. Edward K. Kristensen acknowledged some frustration in the failure to determine the cause of the disaster.

"I guess the frustration, if there is frustration, is that the cause of the event has not been found," he said Thursday. "But it's been an incredible feat."

As of Monday, searchers had conducted 3,167 dives and had spent more than 1,689 hours under water. The Navy's operation represents one of the largest salvage efforts in U.S. history.

Pub Date: 11/03/96

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