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A second U.S. naval ship — the USS Fort Worth — will depart New Year's Day to assist in the search and recovery operations for the AirAsia jet that plunged in Indonesia's Java Sea, U.S. military officials told NBC News.

Coincidentally, the naval ship was already in the region, having arrived in Singapore on Monday from San Diego as part of a previously scheduled deployment.

It will join the USS Sampson, which was deployed to the search zone Monday at the request of the Indonesian government.

The U.S. military said it would also deploy a P-8 aircraft and two dive teams to assist in the search for wreckage and bodies. Teams scouring the waters Tuesday for the airliner located at least six corpses, three of which were recovered, Indonesian officials confirmed to NBC News.

The Malaysian-based airline said 162 people were on board when the plane — headed for Singapore from Indonesia — vanished from radar early Sunday morning amid threatening storms. Search teams are also looking for the jet's black boxes.



— Oliver Cox