US Sending Ship to Help Search for Missing AirAsia Flight

Department of Defense answers Indonesia's request for help.

The San Diego-based USS Sampson of the 7th Fleet is scheduled to arrive in the "general search area" later today, according to a department news release.

U.S. officials said they were responding to a request for assistance from the government of Indonesia.

Flight QZ8501, an Airbus A320-200, lost contact with air traffic control in Jakarta, Indonesia, at 6:17 a.m. Sunday local time near Belitung Island, Indonesia, after the flight left Surabaya, Indonesia, Indonesian Air Transport Director Djoko Murjatmodjo said during a news conference.

The plane vanished shortly after the pilots requested a change of flight plan because of weather, officials said.

The flight, which was headed to Singapore, had at least 162 people on board.