One Marine has died and eight other missing service members are presumed dead after their vessel sank during a training exercise off the coast of Southern California, officials said Sunday.
On Thursday, 15 Marines and one sailor were taking part in a routine training exercise near San Clemente Island, when the amphibious assault vehicle they were riding in took on water and sank, the US Marine Corps said in a statement.
Eight Marines were rescued, including the one who died. Two are currently in critical condition at a local hospital, the Marine Corps said.
Officials on Sunday morning ended their 40-hour search and rescue mission for the missing service members after determining “there was little probability of a successful rescue given the circumstances of the incident,” the statement said.
All seven Marines and the sailor are presumed dead. Their names will be released after next of kin notifications, the Marine Corps said.
“It is with a heavy heart, that I decided to conclude the search and rescue effort,” Col. Christopher Bronzi, commanding officer for the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, said in the statement. “The steadfast dedication of the Marines, Sailors, and Coast Guardsmen to the persistent rescue effort was tremendous.”
Officials said that over the course of the 40-hour search, the Marines, Coast Guard, and Navy searched more than 1,000 square nautical miles by helicopter, ship, and other watercraft. Officials will now shift their efforts to recovering the missing service members.
The circumstances around the incident are under investigation.
“Our thoughts and prayers have been, and will continue to be with our Marines’ and Sailor’s families during this difficult time,” Bronzi said.