Navy 'Copter Crashes in Gulf

WASHINGTON--A Navy helicopter on a routine ferry flight crashed into the Persian Gulf yesterday as it was nearing the USS LaSalle for a landing, leaving one man dead and three missing, the Pentagon said.

Five other men aboard the chopper were rescued.

The Pentagon said the SH-3G Sea King helicopter crashed into the water at 5:58 p.m. local time, or 10:58 a.m. EDT, as it was flying from a land base to the LaSalle, the command ship of the Mideast Task Force.

The helicopter was ferrying equipment and personnel, the Pentagon said.

Pentagon officials who asked not to be named stressed that the helicopter was not engaged in any mine-sweeping operations in the area and had not come under any type of attack.

"This was just a routine ferry flight and something went wrong," said one source.

CBS News reported that the rear rotor of the helicopter apparently struck the ship, but Pentagon sources said they could not confirm the report.

"The only thing we know is that it went down fairly close to the ship," said a source who asked not to be identified.