1 marine dies, 8 more presumed dead after conclusion of SAR operation following AAV ‘mishap’

One marine has been pronounced dead, while eight service members remain missing and are presumed dead after an amphibious assault vehicle with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit suffered a “mishap” on Thursday, July 30, off the Southern California coast.

15 Marines and one sailor were inside the vehicle during the time of the incident,  eight of whom have been rescued.

Two of the rescued mariners were transported to local hospitals, one of them in critical condition, while the other was in stable condition, the Marine Expeditionary Force (MEU) said.

Together with the US Navy, MEUs serve as forward deployed, quick response teams in amphibious operations, security operations, or noncombatant operations.

The incident occurred during a 15th MEU and Making Island Amphibious Ready Group routine training exercise in the vicinity of the Clemente Island.

As disclosed, at approximately 5:45 p..m. marines in the AAV reported taking on water. The incident is said to be under investigation.

The U.S. navy together with the U.S. Coast Guard launched a search and rescue operation following the incident.

After a 40-hour search, the search and rescue operation for seven missing mariners and one sailor ended on August 1. All eight service members are presumed dead. Efforts will now turn to search and recovery.

“It is with heavy heart, that I decided to conclude the search and rescue effort,” said Col. Christopher Bronzi, 15th MEU Commanding Officer.

“Our thoughts and prayers have been, and continue to be with our mariners’ and sailors’ families during this difficult time.”