Published: Sun, August 06, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

US Navy ends three-day search for lost sailor aboard USS Stethem

US Navy ends three-day search for lost sailor aboard USS Stethem

The Navy has ended its search for a sailor who went missing earlier this week in the South China Sea, a US defense official told Fox News.

"I appreciate greatly the dedication and professionalism shown by all who participated in the search efforts", Williams said.

"The sailor, whose name is being withheld pending completion of next of kin notifications, was reported missing and assumed overboard August 1, at about 9 a.m." the release explained.

For the Navy, this was the third man-overboard search this summer, and the second sailor lost at sea.

The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force and Japanese Coast Guard spent over 50 hours and 5,500-square-miles assisting the Navy with this search. During that time, the destroyer vessel was conducting routine operations in worldwide waters, about 140 miles west of the Subic Bay in the Philippines. An investigation is underway.

"After an extensive search, with help from the JMSDF and PLA (N), we were unable to locate our Sailor", Capt. Jeffrey Bennett, commander of Destroyer Squadron 15, said in a Navy news release.

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Soon after, witnesses said, one of the men pulled out a handgun and fired six to seven rounds in rapid succession. One man is in critical condition, another was treated and released and the third victim is a teenage boy.

The USS Stethem is homeported in Yokosuka, Japan.

Two Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy frigates joined the US vessels and the MSDF destroyer Sazanami and helicopters from the Izumo, its largest warship, in the search operations.

Early last month, the Pentagon sent the Stethem near to disputed Triton Island in the Paracel archipelago in the South China Sea.

The operation was aimed at affirming the right to passage and challenging what the USA considers China's excessive territorial claims in the area.

The move drew a sharp rebuke from the Chinese, who called the operation "provocative" and said such actions "violate China's sovereignty and threaten China's security".

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