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Seven marines and a sailor presumed dead after amphibious vehicle sank off Southern California coast

A search for 8 service members has been called off and all are presumed dead, after their amphibious assault vehicle sank in a deep section off the coast of Southern California. 

The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit tweeted early Sunday that the rescue operation was now a recovery mission after 40 hours of searching. Seven marines and 1 sailor were presumed lost after their amphibious assault vehicle sank in water 600 feet deep about 5:45pm Thursday. 

The eight were wearing combat gear and flotation devices at the time. Next of kin were notified, the unit said in the social medial post. 

A search for 8 service members has been called off and all are presumed dead, after their amphibious assault vehicle sank in a deep section off the coast of Southern California. Marines with Bravo Company, Battalion Landing Team, are picture during the search

The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit tweeted early Sunday that the rescue operation was now a recovery mission after 40 hours of searching. A helicopter is pictured during the search

The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit tweeted early Sunday that the rescue operation was now a recovery mission after 40 hours of searching. A helicopter is pictured during the search

The unit tweeted that seven marines and 1 sailor were presumed lost after their amphibious assault vehicle sank in water 600 feet deep about 5:45pm Thursday

The unit tweeted that seven marines and 1 sailor were presumed lost after their amphibious assault vehicle sank in water 600 feet deep about 5:45pm Thursday

Names were not released of the dead, believed to be between mid-30s and 18-years-old. ‘Keep our 15thMEU families in your thoughts and prayers,’ the Marines said via Twitter.

‘I know all of us in the USMC family are extremely saddened following the announcement of the end of SAR operations,’ added General David H. Berger, 38th Commandant of the United States Marine Corps in comments he tweeted following the announcement. 

‘This difficult decision was made after all resources were exhausted.’

The marines said they conducted an extensive ’40-hour’ search, in a statement that also was released. More than 1,000 square nautical miles were covered.

The submarine support ship HOS ‘Dominator’ had joined the search, as one marine had already been confirmed dead and two more injured after the vehicle sank in the water near San Clemente Island in Los Angeles County. 

One sailor and 15 Marines were inside the 26-ton military vehicle when it sank into the Pacific Ocean. The Marines, as a result, suspended the use of the amphibious assault vehicles in water while they are inspected.   

General David H. Berger, 38th Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, tweeted it was a 'difficult decision' to call off the search for the missing service members

General David H. Berger, 38th Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, tweeted it was a ‘difficult decision’ to call off the search for the missing service members

One Marine was taken to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla where he died. Two injured Marines were taken to San Diego-area hospitals where one was in critical condition and the other is stable. 

A marines spokesperson was not immediately available when DailyMail.com reached out for an update.

The Marine Expeditionary Force is the Marine Corps’ main war fighting organization. There are three such groups which are made up of ground, air and logistics forces. 

The vehicle took on water at around 5:45pm while 15 Marines and one sailor were inside near San Clemente Island in Los Angeles County. The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit is seen during training on Monday

The vehicle took on water at around 5:45pm while 15 Marines and one sailor were inside near San Clemente Island in Los Angeles County. The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit is seen during training on Monday

Berger said during a press conference at Camp Pendleton that all their AAV’s will undergo a review.  

‘All AAVs across the fleet will be inspected,’ said Gen. Berger, USNI News reports. 

‘This is to ensure out of an abundance of caution that we take the time, give the time to the recovery and find out what actually happened. [AAV] units can continue to train ashore. We’ll wait until we have a better picture.’ 

Pictured: A U.S. Navy MH-60 Seahawk lands aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD-8) during ongoing search and rescue relief operations

Pictured: A U.S. Navy MH-60 Seahawk lands aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD-8) during ongoing search and rescue relief operations 

Pictured: Naval Air Crewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class Joseph Rivera, a search and rescue swimmer assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island , looks out of a U.S. Navy MH-60 Seahawk while conducting search and rescue relief operations following

Pictured: Naval Air Crewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class Joseph Rivera, a search and rescue swimmer assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island , looks out of a U.S. Navy MH-60 Seahawk while conducting search and rescue relief operations following

The AAV sank while leaving  Clemente Island for amphibious warship USS Somerset, and is believed to have dropped down in 600ft of water

The AAV sank while leaving  Clemente Island for amphibious warship USS Somerset, and is believed to have dropped down in 600ft of water 

But it’s unclear how long the wait will be because the sheer depth of the AAV’s descent into the water complicated matters.

Gen. Osterman added that the AAV ‘is really below the depth that a diver could do.

‘So we are working and we really owe an incredible gratitude and thanks to our Navy and Coast Guard brethren who’ve helped us in this endeavor. They are actually working with us to provide assets that can basically get down and take a look at the AAV.’ 

Military officials classified the mission as a recovery after an 'extensive' 40 hour search

Military officials classified the mission as a recovery after an ‘extensive’ 40 hour search

The identities of the service members have not been disclosed, but an official said their ages likely ranged from mid-30s to as young as 18-years-old. A service member perched from a helicopter is pictured during the search

The identities of the service members have not been disclosed, but an official said their ages likely ranged from mid-30s to as young as 18-years-old. A service member perched from a helicopter is pictured during the search

Pictured: HOS Dominator, part of the US Navy Military Sealift Command

Pictured: HOS Dominator, part of the US Navy Military Sealift Command

Search and rescue options began immediately after the AAV sank. 

At the time of the accident, the Marines had been training on San Clemente Island and were returning to the amphibious warship USS Somerset. 

‘An immediate response was provided by two additional [AAVs] that were with them…. as well as a safety boat,’said Osterman.

The island, which sits about 78 miles from Camp Pendleton, is managed by the Navy and houses a number of training facilities. 

The New York Times reports that two nearby amphibious vehicles witnessed the AAV sink and were able to positively identify the exact location.

 ‘The adjacent A.A.V.’s watched it go down, and at 26 tons, the assumption is that it went down to the bottom,’ said Lt. Osterman. 

Two nearby AAV's witnessed the accident and were later able to help locate the exact area where the ship sank

Two nearby AAV’s witnessed the accident and were later able to help locate the exact area where the ship sank 

The Marines have suspended the use of AAV's on Friday and they vehicles were undergo inspections

The Marines have suspended the use of AAV’s on Friday and they vehicles were undergo inspections 

He estimated that oldest service member aboard was in their mid-30s and the youngest was near 18-years-old.  

‘This mishap is under investigation. We will share the results of it once it is complete,’ said Gen. Berger. 

There are about 800 AAVs in the Marine’s inventory and each weighs 26 tons and can carry up to 21 people.

In 2017, 15 Marines were injured when a AAV they were training in caught fire at Camp Pendleton. 

Marines have utilized the vehicles to move troops from water to land since the 1970s.  

The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit said that they have notified all the families of the Marines and Sailor involved in the tragic accident

The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit said that they have notified all the families of the Marines and Sailor involved in the tragic accident

There are about 800 AAV's in the Marin'e inventory that can carry up to 21 people and each weighs 26 tons

There are about 800 AAV’s in the Marin’e inventory that can carry up to 21 people and each weighs 26 tons

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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