A Marine embarked aboard the USS Essex is believed to have gone overboard Friday morning in waters near the Philippines, according to a statement by the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Navy, Marine Corps and Philippine ships and aircraft were searching for the servicemember, who was reported overboard from the amphibious-assault ship at 9:40 a.m. At the time, the Essex was “conducting routine operations in the Sulu Sea,” according to the statement.
Search-and-rescue efforts began immediately after the incident was reported, according to the statement. Officials did not release the Marine’s name, but said his or her family has been notified.
“It is an all-hands effort to find our missing Marine,” said Navy Capt. Gerald Olin, commander of Amphibious Squadron One and the on-scene commander of the search-and-rescue efforts. “All of our sailors, marines and available assets aboard the USS Essex have been and will continue to be involved in this incredibly important search and rescue operation.”
Crew members conducted several searches inside the vessel, while aircraft embarked on the Essex have been used “round-the-clock” to search the Sulu Sea and Surigao Strait from above, the statement said.
The Navy also sent P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft to expand the search area with the help of Philippine Coast Guard vessels. Altogether, the search-and-rescue efforts stretch about 3,000 nautical miles, according to the statement.
Col. Chandler Nelms, commander of the 13th MEU, said servicemembers “remain committed to searching for and finding our Marine.”
“As we continue our search operation, we ask that you keep our Marine and the Marine’s family in your thoughts and prayers,” he said in the statement.
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