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Navy Calls Off Search for Sailor Who Fell Overboard Near Japan

An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter prepares to land on the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67) on May 22, 2017, in waters south of Japan. (U.S. Navy photo/Nathan Burke)
An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter prepares to land on the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67) on May 22, 2017, in waters south of Japan. (U.S. Navy photo/Nathan Burke)

The U.S. Navy has called off the search for a sailor who fell overboard in the Philippine Sea off the coast of Japan.

The service around midnight Saturday suspended the search for a sailor who went overboard around 9:30 p.m. Friday from the guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67) during routine operations about 180 miles east of Okinawa, according to a press release.

The sailor wasn't identified. The Navy said the family is requesting privacy.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, and the crew of the USS Shiloh during this difficult time," Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin, commander of U.S. 7th Fleet, said in the release. "I'm proud of the effort the crews of the Reagan Strike Group and our Japanese allies made to find our shipmate."

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Officials are investigating the incident, which was the second for the Navy in a matter of days. On Saturday, the sea service ended a search for another sailor, Fire Controlman 2nd Class Christopher W. Clavin, who went overboard June 6 from the guided-missile cruiser Normandy about 80 miles off the coast of Cherry Point, North Carolina.

The search off the coast of Japan involved helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft from USS Shiloh, the destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85), and the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), as well as a P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, according to the release. The Joint Personnel Recovery Center Hawaii and U.S. Coast Guard District 11 provided additional distance support, it stated.

Japan, meanwhile, deployed the destroyer Ashigara (DDG 178) and the coast guard ships Kudaka and Ryuku for the search -- which lasted more than two days and covered 5,500 square miles, according to the release.

"The decision to suspend the search was not arrived at lightly," Rear Adm. Charles Williams, commander of Carrier Strike Group 5 and Task Force 70, said in the release. "Our thoughts are with our lost shipmate, his family, and the officers and crew of USS Shiloh. I am thankful for the dedication and professionalism shown during this search by the U.S. Navy and our Japanese Allies."

-- Brendan McGarry can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.

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