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Marine Missing from USS Essex Not Found as Search Concludes

Sailors, assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21, conduct search and rescue operations for a missing Marine assigned to 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). US Navy Photo

This post was updated with additional information from 13th MEU. The official status of the lost Marine is missing, not presumed dead.

A Marine who went missing from USS Essex (LHD-2) last week has not been found after the Navy and Marines concluded a five-day search of the Sulu Sea, Mindanao Sea and the Surigao Strait.

Units from the Essex Amphibious Ready Group, the 13th MEU and the Philippines Coast Guard searched for fives days covering an area of 13,000 square miles launching more than 110 aerial sorties, the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit said in a Tuesday statement.

The process to presume a servicemember 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,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Gerald Olin, commander, Amphibious Squadron One and the on-scene commander of the search and rescue operation said in a statement. “We appreciate the continued support provided to us from the U.S. Embassy and Philippine Government.”

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.

“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.”

An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

The Marine went missing from Essex on Aug. 9 while Essex was operating in the Sulu Sea.

The Essex ARG and 13th MEU departed San Diego, Calif. on July 10. The ARG includes amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD-23) and dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD-47).

The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) maneuvers into position to conduct a fueling-at-sea with Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47) during an amphibious squadron and Marine expeditionary unit (MEU) integration (PMINT) exercise. US Navy photo.

The following is the complete Aug. 14, 2018 statement on the conclusion of the search for the Marine missing from USS Essex.

Essex ARG/13th MEU conclude at-sea search

For Immediate Release
Aug. 14, 2018
After a deliberate, five-day search, the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) concluded their search and rescue operation for a missing Marine, Aug. 13.

The Marine was reported missing and assumed overboard Aug. 9. At that time the ship was conducting routine operations in the Sulu Sea. Over the course of the at-sea search approximately 13,000 square nautical miles of the Sulu Sea, Mindanao Sea and the Surigao [Strait] were searched with more than 110 aerial sorties.

Additional support was provided to the search and rescue effort by the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines, U.S. Coast Guard District 14, and Singapore Information Fusion Centre.

“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, Amphibious Squadron One and the on-scene commander of the search and rescue operation. “We appreciate the continued support provided to us from the U.S. Embassy and Philippine Government.”

“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,” said Col. Chandler Nelms, commanding officer, 13th MEU. “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.