How the USS Sampson Is Helping to Find AirAsia Flight 8501

PHOTO: U.S. Navy personnel from USS Sampson and National Search and Rescue Agency personnel unload the body of a victim aboard AirAsia Flight 8501 from a U.S. Navy helicopter upon arrival at the airport in Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia, Friday, Jan. 2, 2015. PlayAchmad Ibrahim/AP Photo
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The USS Sampson has located debris and human remains since it joined the search for AirAsia Flight 8501, which went missing last weeekend, the ship's commanding officer said.

Cmdr. Steven Foley, speaking this morning on "This Week," said he could not confirm Indonesian reports that the "head and tail" of the plane have been located, and highlighted the difficulties of recovery operations in open waters.

Asked by ABC's Martha Raddatz what we can learn from the fact that the Sampson has so far heard no trace of an underwater locator beacon (the "pinger" attached to flight voice- and data-recorders), Foley responded: "It's only about a 4,000- to 5,000-yard distance in which we can hear the pinger. So the ship really has to travel right over it or within close proximity."

More than 30 bodies have been located at this point, according to Indonesian authorities.

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Foley also emphasized that this is an Indonesian-run operation, but the U.S. will do whatever Indonesian authorities ask for.

"The U.S. government is providing as much help as the Indonesian authorities request, and that's really the bottom line on that subject," he said. "And if they request more, then the U.S. provides more."

AirAsia Flight 8501 crashed into the Java Sea last month en route to Singapore from Surabaya, Indonesia.