A massive search and rescue operation is underway for a Marine, assigned to the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) embarked aboard USS Essex (LHD 2) after he was reported overboard.
According to a statement from 13th MEU,, the Marine was reported missing by Essex at 9:40 a.m. local time on August 9 while the ship was conducting routine operations in the Sulu Sea off the Philippine coast. The statement added that a combined effort of U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and Philippine ships and aircraft are currently searching for the Marine.
“As we continue our search operation, we ask that you keep our Marine and the Marine’s family in your thoughts and prayers,” Col. Chandler Nelms, the commanding officer of the 13th MEU, said in the statement. “We remain committed to searching for and finding our Marine.”
To date, multiple searches have been conducted inside the ship while embarked aircraft abroad the USS Essex conducted round-the-clock search and rescue (SAR) operations within the Sulu Sea and the Surigao Strait. In addition, U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft and Philippine Coast Guard vessels have expanded the area. Together, the response has covered roughly 3000 square nautical miles.
“It is an all-hands effort to find our missing Marine,” U.S. Navy Captain Gerald Olin, commander of Amphibious Squadron One and the on-scene commander of the search-and-rescue operation, said in the statement. “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.”
The statement added that the family of the missing Marine has been notified but name is been withheld as the search operations is ongoing.