Navy Calls Off Search for Officer Who Went Missing from USS Lake Erie

Guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) operates with other cruisers off the coast of Hawaii during Koa Kai 14-1. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Johans Chavarro)
Guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) operates with other cruisers off the coast of Hawaii during Koa Kai 14-1. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Johans Chavarro)

The Navy and Coast Guard stopped the search for a sailor reported missing from the guided-missile cruiser Lake Erie after canvasing more than 16,000 square miles of open water over four days.

The search-and-rescue operations concluded at about 7:30 p.m. California time on Wednesday, according to a Navy news release. The sailor had been reported missing Sunday morning off the coast of California after failing to report for duty.

The incident remains under investigation, the release states.

Seven ships and multiple Navy and Coast Guard aircraft were involved in the search. Navy Capt. Christine O'Connell, commanding officer of the Lake Erie, said the crew's thoughts are with the sailor's family.

"Losing a shipmate is devastating and felt by our entire crew," she said in the statement. "We will continue to support the family in any way we can."

The Navy has not identified the missing sailor. But Alicia McCalla posted a Facebook video Tuesday morning identifying her son, Lt. j.g. Asante McCalla, as the missing person.

The naval officer is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta and an "excellent child," she said in the emotional video in which she pleaded for answers about his whereabouts.

The Lake Erie initiated man-overboard procedures on Sunday following several unsuccessful attempts to locate the missing officer aboard the ship. Later that day, the Coast Guard's District 11 took the lead on the search-and-rescue mission.

Navy, Coast Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Protection pilots flew more than 140 sorties over open water in MH-60 helicopters, E-2 Hawkeyes and C-27 Spartans. The search from air and sea covered more than 16,550 square nautical miles, according to Navy officials.

The Lake Erie was conducting routine training operations with the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Howard McCalla, Asante McCalla's father, told WXIA, an Atlanta-based NBC affiliate, that he had spoken to his son by video chat just before the training exercise started.

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

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