U.S. forces in the Pacific have called off the search for a missing Marine lost at sea during naval operations off the coast of the Philippines, Marine Corps officials said Monday.
For the last five days, search-and-rescue units from the Navy’s Essex Amphibious Ready Group and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit combed the waters Sulu Sea, Mindanao Sea and the Surigao Straight. U.S. and Philippine forces carried out over 110 search flights covering 13,000 square nautical miles in the hopes of recovering the lost Marine, who presumably fell overboard from the U.S.S. Essex amphibious warship during routine operations in the region.
“Only after exhausting every possibility through persistent and thorough search efforts, we have concluded the at-sea search and rescue effort for our Marine,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Gerald Olin, commander of Amphibious Squadron One and the officer in charge of the search mission, in a statement issued Monday.
Navy and Marine Corps officials have yet to release the identity of the missing Marine and said the incident was under investigation, the statement says.
“All of our Marines and Sailors demonstrated a tremendous resilience and put forth an extraordinary effort over the past five days. … Our thoughts and prayers have been and will continue to be with our Marine’s family during this difficult time,” 13th MEU Commander Col. Chandler Nelms said in the same statement.
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