MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) -- After an extensive search by military units, the Navy suspended search and rescue efforts at 6 p.m. (Zulu +4) April 2 for the fourth crew member from the E-2C Hawkeye that crashed March 31.
The missing pilot has been declared deceased.
Lt. Steven Zilberman, 31, was born in Ukraine and considered Columbus, Ohio, his hometown. He served in the Navy for nearly eight years.
"This is a heart-wrenching loss for the Zilberman family and the 'Bluetail' family," said Cmdr. Joseph F. Finn, Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 121's commanding officer. "It is our exceptional people that are the strength of our community and our Navy. Steven was one such individual. He bravely and willingly accepted the risks of an inherently dangerous job. He was a fine aviator, and we are better people for having him in our lives. I extend my deepest sympathy to Steven's family and friends. He will not be forgotten."
The E-2C Hawkeye from VAW 121, the "Bluetails," stationed aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), impacted the water approximately five miles from the ship.
Several ships and aircraft, including Dwight D. Eisenhower, USS Carney (DDG 64), USNS Supply (T-AOE 6) and other U.S. Central Command Navy and Air Force aircraft searched more than 5,300 square miles for the missing aviator.
"Lt. Zilberman was an exceptional naval officer and pilot, who embodied the best of what America represents," said Capt. Roy Kelley, commander, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7. "We are deeply saddened by this tremendous loss of a fellow aviator and shipmate. He will be truly missed, and our heart goes out to the Zilberman family during this very difficult time."
Three of the four crew members were recovered shortly after the crash and are in good condition without significant injuries.
The E-2C Hawkeye was returning from conducting operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom when the aircraft experienced mechanical malfunctions and the crew performed a controlled bailout.
VAW 121, homeported in Norfolk, is part CVW 7, assigned to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group.
The cause of the accident is under investigation.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusnc/.