Search-and-Rescue Mission for Missing 13th MEU Marine Ends

The U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Philippine coast guard have flown more than 110 sorties and searched 13,000 square nautical miles in search of a Marine reported overboard near the Philippines last week. After a five-day search, the at-sea search-and-rescue mission has concluded. (Marine Corps photo)
The U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Philippine coast guard have flown more than 110 sorties and searched 13,000 square nautical miles in search of a Marine reported overboard near the Philippines last week. After a five-day search, the at-sea search-and-rescue mission has concluded. (Marine Corps photo)

A massive search-and-rescue mission for a Marine believed to have gone overboard while deployed aboard a Navy ship near the Philippines last week has ended, Marine Corps officials announced Tuesday.

The U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard and Philippine coast guard concluded a five-day search Monday after covering 13,000 square miles in search of a service member who was reported missing Aug. 9.

The Marine's status is still reported as missing, said Capt. Diann Rosenfeld, a spokeswoman for the Marine's unit. More than 110 aerial sorties were flown during the search.

"Only after exhausting every possibility through persistent and thorough search efforts, we have concluded the at-sea search-and-rescue effort for our Marine," Navy Capt. Gerald Olin, head of Amphibious Squadron One and commander of the search-and-rescue operation, said in a statement.

The Marine, whose identity has not been made public, is assigned to the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is deployed with the Navy's Essex Amphibious Ready Group. His or her disappearance remains under investigation.

The Marine is believed to have gone overboard during routine operations in the Sulu Sea near the Philippines. Searches for the Marine took place in the Surigao Strait and Sulu and Mindanao seas.

"All of our Marines and sailors demonstrated a tremendous resilience and put forth an extraordinary effort over the past five days, and I am humbled by the teamwork and professionalism displayed by all involved to find our Marine," Col. Chandler Nelms, the MEU's commanding officer, said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers have been and will continue to be with our Marine's family during this difficult time."

The Essex ARG and 13th MEU deployed last month from San Diego and are en route to the Middle East. It's the first ARG to deploy from the continental U.S. with Marine F-35B Joint Strike Fighters aboard.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ginaaharkins.

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