Search for U.S. Marine missing in Sulu Sea underway

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The USS Essex (LHD-2).

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 11) — United States and Philippine authorities are in the search for a U.S. Marine who went missing during routine operations in the Sulu Sea on Thursday.

The unidentified Marine, assigned to the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), was on the USS Essex when he reportedly went overboard at 9:40 a.m..

The 13th MEU, in a statement Friday, said the ship's crew immediately launched a search and rescue operation inside the ship.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed the marine went missing in Philippine waters.

"We allowed the entry of (U.S.) rescue ships and aircraft. Hindi naman sila nagpapatulong. As of now (wala) pang update kung na-recover na 'yung marine," he said.

[Translation: They didn't ask for help. As of now there are no updates on whether the marine was recovered.]

U.S. Navy P-8 aircraft and Philippine Coast Guard vessels have expanded the search area, covering 6,700 square nautical miles.

Western Mindanao Commander  Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega said they have dispatched air search and rescue teams during the first few hours, but did not find the marine.

"As we continue our search operation, we ask that you keep our Marine and the Marine's family in your thoughts and prayers," said Col. Chandler Nelms, commanding officer, 13th MEU. "We remain committed to searching for and finding our Marine."