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Navy shifts focus of TWA search

August 26, 1996
Web posted at: 4:30 p.m. EDT

EAST MORICHES, New York (CNN) -- U.S. Navy divers have begun winding up their operations in the underwater debris field closest to Kennedy Airport -- without finding any apparent clue to the cause of the crash of TWA Flight 800.


The Navy is expected to return to the area with high-resolution sonar looking for any wreckage that may have been missed in earlier searches.

A Navy spokesman said Monday the recovery vessel USS Grapple and its divers have been moved from that debris field to another about a mile to the east. The jet's cockpit was found in the Grapple's new target area.

Investigators had hoped the debris field closest to the airport might yield evidence telling them what happened to the Boeing 747 that blew apart in the sky off the south shore of Long Island a month ago.

The Navy recovered luggage from that area, along with small pieces of the underbelly of the plane. But investigators ruled out an explosion in the front luggage compartment after they found no signs of bomb damage on the cargo bins that held the luggage.

Most of the wreckage of Flight 800, from the center and back of the plane, went down in the Atlantic farther to the east, and those recovery operations are continuing with divers from a sister ship, the USS Grasp.


All 230 people aboard the New York-to-Paris flight were killed July 17 when the jetliner exploded in the sky less than a dozen minutes after takeoff.

FBI tests have turned up a trace of the chemical PETN, found in plastic explosives. The trace was found on a piece of wreckage from the center section of the jumbo jet.

But investigators say have still not found enough evidence to confirm that a bomb or missile brought the plane down.

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