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1 Marine dead, 8 missing off California after amphibious assault vehicle takes on water

  • Author: Andrew Dyer, The San Diego Union-Tribune
  • Updated: July 31, 2020
  • Published July 31, 2020

FILE - This Nov. 13, 2013 file photo shows the main gate of Camp Pendleton Marine Base at Camp Pendleton, Calif. A human smuggling investigation by the military led to the arrest of 16 Marines Thursday, July 25, 2019 while carrying out a battalion formation at California's Camp Pendleton, a base about an hour's drive from the U.S.-Mexico border. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi, File)

One Marine is dead, two are in the hospital and eight more service members are missing off the coast of San Clemente Island after their amphibious assault vehicle began taking on water Thursday afternoon, the Marines said in a statement early Friday.

There were 16 service members in the vehicle — 15 Marines and one sailor. Eight have been recovered and a multi-ship, multi-agency search is underway for eight who are missing.

They are all based at Camp Pendleton.

"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," said Col. Christopher Bronzi, 15th MEU Commanding Officer, in a statement.

The guided-missile destroyer USS John Finn and Coast Guard cutter Forrest Rednour are searching for the missing crew along with small boats from the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island and amphibious transport docks USS Somerset and USS San Diego. Navy and Coast Guard helicopters are also involved in search and rescue efforts.

Amphibious assault vehicles are troop transports that carry small units from ship to shore. The one involved in the mishap began taking on water around 5:45 p.m. Thursday, according to the statement.

More details about the accident and to which unit these service members are attached were not available Friday morning. This story will be updated as more information becomes available.