US Navy calls off desperate search for Marine overboard in Sulu Sea

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Marine
The USS Essex is leading the search for the missing US Marine commando.

After a five-day search covering some 13,000 square nautical miles, the US Navy is ending a search and rescue operation for a missing Marine.

The Marine commando was reported overboard by the USS Essex on the morning of Thursday, August 9, as the ship was conducting routine operations in the Sulu Sea.

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As we reported on Saturday, the Philippine government granted full access to its territorial waters in support of the rescue mission.

The US Embassy in Manila, US Coast Guard District 14 and the Singapore Information Fusion Centre provided additional support to the search and rescue efforts that included the Sulu Sea, Mindanao Sea and the Surigao Strait.

A press release issued by the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) yesterday (Tuesday, August 14) said the circumstances surrounding the Marine’s disappearance were currently being investigated.

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“Only after exhausting every possibility through persistent and thorough search efforts, we have concluded the at-sea search and rescue effort for our Marine,” US Navy Captain Gerald Olin, who led the search mission, said in the statement. 

“We appreciate the continued support provided to us from the US Embassy and Philippine Government.”

The missing Marine has not yet been identified.

Colonel Chandler Nelms, commanding officer of the 13th MEU, praised the Marines and sailors who took part in the search.

“I am humbled by the teamwork and professionalism displayed by all involved to find our Marine,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers have been and will continue to be with our Marine’s family during this difficult time.”

The 844-foot long USS Essex can transport and support a team of more than 2,000 Marines during an assault by air or land. 

It departed from its home port in San Diego, California, on July 10 for a Western Pacific and Middle East deployment, as part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group.

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