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Sailor Killed in Okinawa Diving Accident

Tourists snap photos of the weather-battered coral rock cliffs at Cape Manzamo June 13, 2015. The cape is one of Okinawa's most popular tourist destinations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tim Flack)
Tourists snap photos of the weather-battered coral rock cliffs at Cape Manzamo June 13, 2015. The cape is one of Okinawa's most popular tourist destinations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tim Flack)

An Okinawa-based sailor died Monday in what appears to be a diving accident suffered at a popular snorkeling spot on the island.

The male sailor, whom officials declined to name during a 24-hour next-of-kin notification period, was assigned to 3rd Medical Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, out of Camp Foster, Okinawa, said Marine 2nd Lt. Jacky Chow in a statement.

He died at approximately 10 a.m. Monday local time at Mermaid's Grotto, near Cape Manzamo.

Chow said the Marine Corps has launched an official investigation into the cause of the sailor's death and would not provide additional details about the incident until the investigation is complete.

"The thoughts and prayers of the entire command are with the sailor's family, friends and unit service members," she said.

This is the 11th death of a sailor engaged in off-duty or recreational activities within the last year, according to the Naval Safety Center, and the second to happen on the water.

In April, Chief Petty Officer Kenneth Gates, assigned to U.S. Special Operations Command, drowned near MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa after diving underwater to free the anchor of his 19-foot fishing boat.

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

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