Nine Marines have been presumed “dead” and two are in “critical” condition after an amphibious assault vehicle sank several hundred feet during a training session.
A search and rescue operation for the missing marines has come to an end nearly two days after The Marine Expeditionary Force announced that the Navy and Coast Guard were searching for sailors.
This photo is of a search and rescue swimmer assigned[/caption]
The MEF revealed early Sunday that the “15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), I Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), and the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG)” concluded their extensive 40-hour search for seven missing marines and one sailor.
Col. Christopher Bronzi, 15th MEU Commanding Officer, said in a Sunday press release: “It is with a heavy heart, that I decided to conclude the search and rescue effort.
“The steadfast dedication of the Marines, Sailors, and Coast Guardsmen to the persistent rescue effort was tremendous.”
The fatal accident occurred during a training exercise at 5.45pm on Thursday near San Clemente Island, and involved members of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
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The 15th MEU is based at the Marine Corps Camp Pendleton training centre on the West Coast.
During routine training near the island, the amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) began taking on water – with 15 marines and one sailor on board.