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More Ships Join Search Effort for Missing Sailor

The Navy's dock landing ship USS Carter Hall. One of its crew has been missing since Saturday. (US Navy photo)
The Navy's dock landing ship USS Carter Hall. One of its crew has been missing since Saturday. (US Navy photo)

Eight ships and Navy and Coast Guard aircraft are now assisting in search and rescue efforts for a sailor reported missing from the dock landing ship USS Carter Hall off the coast of North Carolina the afternoon of April 9.

Officials with Expeditionary Strike Group 2 said personnel aboard the Carter Hall, aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Arleigh-Burke class guided missile destroyers Laboon, Mahan, Mason, Nitze, Truxtun and Stout are all helping to search an area of more than 4,500 square miles off Cape Hatteras in North Carolina's outer banks as the search continues into a third day.

"The search is ongoing, it's robust, and we are doing everything we can to find the missing sailor," Lt. Mike Hatfield, a spokesman for the strike group, told Military.com.

Hatfield could not confirm early reports about the circumstances of the sailor's disappearance. Navy Times cited an internal Navy report indicating that the sailor was a female third-class petty officer, and said officials had found boots and a note at the rear of the ship.

The Carter Hall had been conducting routine training in support of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group in preparation for an upcoming deployment. The sailor was discovered missing around 4:20 p.m.

The identity and unit of the sailor are being withheld until 24 hours after next-of-kin notification, which will only take place if search efforts are called off and the sailor is considered deceased, an official said.

Meanwhile, Hatfield said, there will be an investigation into the circumstances under which the sailor went missing, though it's not yet clear what organization will lead that investigation.

"We are continuing to search tirelessly with every asset at our disposal. Our thoughts and prayers are with our shipmate and the family during this trying time," Rear Adm. Cynthia Thebaud, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 2, said in a statement.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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