SAN DIEGO – Eight Marines who went missing after an accident on a military boat off the coast of southern California, during a military exercise, are presumed dead, the Marine Corps announced Sunday.
The Navy said they suspended the search that began since Thursday afternoon after a maritime military tank sank with seven infants and one sailor. Eight other sailors were rescued, but one later died, and two more are in critical condition.
According to the military base, the relatives of those involved in the tragedy have already been notified.
“We have covered more than 200 square miles in the Pacific Ocean during the exhaustive search for our 8 members of the Navy,” they said in a statement on their Twitter account on Saturday.
Benny Guzmán, a former member of the Marine Corps said he did not imagine the difficult situation in which those involved were involved during the accident, and although he assured that everyone has training to deal with this type of situation, the tragedies are unpredictable.
The incident occurred on Thursday night, during a training where the amphibious assault tank with 15 Marines and a sailor on board began to sink in the open sea near the island of San Clemente about 112 kilometers off the coast of San Diego, leaving eight missing and one dead.
48 hours passed since the incident
“We know exactly where it sank, because other units were there,” said Joseph Osterman, Lt. Gen. First Marine Expeditionary Force, USMC.
Now some of the Marines participating in the training were part of the effort to find the missing at sea.
Meanwhile, two Marines are recovering at the Scripps hospital in La Jolla, one of them in critical condition and the other in stable condition.
Two recover in hospital and 8 are missing
For now, the names of the deceased and the other eight missing Marines have not been released.
According to authorities, 15 infants and a Navy sailor were aboard the maritime vehicle on Thursday when it began to sink around 5:45 pm local time. The tank traveled from the shores of San Clemente, a military-owned island 78 miles off the coast of San Diego, to a Navy ship, said Lt. Cameron H. Edinburgh, a spokesman for the Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton.
Military ships, small boats and helicopters participated in the search for the disappeared on Friday amid unfavorable conditions such as strong winds.
The ship was sinking in the port of Corpus Christi, Texas, due to Hanna’s intensity.
Navy officials were able to rescue eight who were aboard the sunken maritime vehicle, but eight more remain to be located, Marine Corps Commander Gen. David H. Berger said Friday.
The amphibious assault vehicle (AVV) lies thousands of feet from the shoreline and several hundred feet below the ocean surface after the accident, a depth unattainable to human divers, according to Lt. Gen. Joseph L. Osterman, Commanding General, I MEF.
“They were basically completing the training,” Osterman said. “They had already landed the day before and had been conducting ground-based as well as afloat training tasks, so they were actually going back to the ship from the island.”
Berger has directed an immediate suspension of AAV maritime operations until the Marine Corps has more information on this incident, and said that all AAVs will be inspected throughout the fleet.
The USS Essex, USS Somerset, USS San Diego, USS John Finn, three US Navy helicopters, and several small ships were being supported by a US Coast Guard ship and a Coast Guard Sector helicopter from San Diego in search of the eight missing service members.
Osterman said multiple AAVs were adjacent when the AAV in question began to sink, so rescuers know its exact location.
“We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident. I ask that you keep our Marines, Sailors and their families in your prayers as we continue our search, ”Colonel Christopher Bronzi, commander of the unit, said in a statement from the Marine Corps. Twitter account.
Thursday’s accident marks the third time in less than a decade that Camp Pendleton infants have been injured or killed during AAV training exercises.
In 2017, 14 Marines and a Navy Sailor were hospitalized after their vehicle hit a natural gas line, causing a fire to engulf the ship during a training exercise at Camp Pendleton, the extensive Marine Corps coastal base. north of San Diego.
And in 2011, another infant died when his amphibious assault vehicle sank off the shores of Camp Pendleton during an exercise.
Marines use the vehicles to transport troops and their equipment from Navy ships to land. Vehicles are nicknamed “amtracs” by the original name “amphibious tractor”.
Armored vehicles equipped with machine guns and grenade launchers look like tanks as they roll toward shore for beach attacks, with infantry coming out of them to take up positions.
The Marine Corps Expeditionary Force is the primary war combat organization of the Marine Corps. There are three such groups that are made up of ground, air, and logistics forces.