Search and rescue efforts are ongoing for a Marine who fell overboard near the Philippines while embarked on the amphibious assault ship Essex with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Corps officials announced on Friday.
- Navy, Marine Corps, and Philippine ships and aircraft have already searched nearly 3,000 nautical miles for the Marine, who was reported overboard at 9:40 a.m. local time on Thursday, according to a 13th MEU news release. The Essex deployed in July with the Marine Corps’ variant of the F-35, which could fly its first combat missions later in the year.
- Sailors and Marines have thoroughly searched the Essex while aircraft from the ship have conducted “round-the-clock search and rescue operations,” the news release says. Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft along with Philippine coast guard vessels have also increased the size of the search area.
- Aircraft from the Essex that are taking part in the search include MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopters, MV-22B Ospreys, and CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters, said Marine Capt. Diann Rosenfeld, a spokeswoman for the 13th MEU.
- “It is an all-hands effort to find our missing Marine," Navy Capt. Gerald Olin, the commander, Amphibious Squadron One who is leading the rescue efforts, said in the news release. “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 MEU is withholding the name of the Marine, whose family has been notified, while search and rescue efforts are ongoing, the news release says.
- “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, 13th MEU commanding officer, said in the news release. “We remain committed to searching for and finding our Marine.”