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August 19, 2018
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SULU – U.S. military forces have terminated the search for a Marine who went missing from the amphibious assault ship USS Essex during routine operations in the Sulu Sea. U.S. Navy and Marines, aided by the Philippine Coast Guard, concluded a five-day search of the Sulu Sea, Mindanao Sea and the Surigao Strait and failed to recover the missing Marine.

A U.S. Navy photo shows a member of the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21 during a massive search and rescue operations for a missing Marine assigned to 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit in the Sulu Sea. The search fails to recover the missing Marine, whose identity was not released to the press.


The 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit said the search covered an area of 13,000 square miles. The process to presume a service member dead can take up to a week and the official status of Marine is still, “missing.”

“Only after exhausting every possibility through persistent and thorough search efforts, we have concluded the at-sea search and rescue effort for our Marine. We appreciate the continued support provided to us from the U.S. Embassy and Philippine Government,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Gerald Olin, commander, Amphibious Squadron One and the on-scene commander of the search and rescue operation.

Additional support for the search came from the Singapore Information Fusion Centre, U.S. Embassy in the Philippines and U.S. Coast Guard District 14, according to a report by the USNI News.

“All of our Marines and Sailors demonstrated a tremendous resilience and put forth an extraordinary effort over the past five days, and I am humbled by the teamwork and professionalism displayed by all involved to find our Marine,” Col. Chandler Nelms, commanding officer, 13th MEU said in a statement.

“Our thoughts and prayers have been and will continue to be with our Marine’s family during this difficult time.” The circumstances surrounding the incident are currently being investigated. The Essex ARG and 13th MEU departed San Diego in California on July 10. The ARG includes amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD-23) and dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD-47). (USNI News. With a report from the Mindanao Examiner.)


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