"Authorities in the region continue to lead the search and rescue effort. The US Navy is working closely with the government of Indonesia to identify additional surface or airborne capabilities that best assist their search efforts," the US 7th Fleet said in a statement. USS Sampson is expected to be in the region soon, it said, adding that such a decision was taken after a request from the Indonesian government.
"The Indonesian government has requested US assistance in the search for AirAsia Flight 8501," the Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said.
"The details of that request, which was made through the US State Department, are still being coordinated but could include some air, surface and sub-surface detection capabilities. We stand ready to assist in any way possible," Kirby said. Earlier in the day, the State Department said that Indonesia had officially requested for US help.
"Our embassy in Jakarta is in close contact with Indonesian officials, and today, we received a request for assistance locating the airplane," said Jeffrey Rathke, a State Department spokesman.
"We are reviewing that request to find out how best we can meet Indonesia's request for assistance," he said, and confirmed that no American citizens were on the missing plane. The Singapore-bound Flight QZ8501 lost contact with air-traffic control less than an hour after takeoff on Sunday.
Contact with the plane was lost shortly after a request was made by the pilots to climb to a higher altitude to avoid bad weather. The Airbus A320-200 was carrying 155 passengers -- one British, one Malaysian, one Singaporean, three South Koreans, 149 Indonesians -- and seven crew members -- six Indonesians and a French co-pilot. Seventeen of the passengers were children. There was also no distress signal sent out by the AirAsia jetliner.