One US Marine is dead and eight service members remain missing after an assault amphibious vehicle (AAV) accident off the coast of Southern California on Thursday.
Some 15 Marines and one sailor were aboard the vehicle when it began taking on water at 5:45 p.m. local time on Thursday, officials said. Two Marines are reported injured and in the hospital, with one in critical condition and the other listed as stable, the Pentagon said Friday.
1 Marine has died, 8 service members remain missing and 2 were injured after an AAV mishap July 30 off the coast of Southern California. All are assigned to the 15th MEU. Search and rescue efforts are still underway with support from the Navy and Coast Guard.
— I MEF (@1stMEF) July 31, 2020
All 16 personnel involved in the mishap were assigned to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is based at Camp Pendleton near San Diego.
“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, the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s commanding officer.
The mishap reportedly took place during a training exercise in the vicinity of San Clemente island. A widespread search and rescue effort is reportedly underway for the missing service members, comprising Navy and Coast Guard helicopters, as well as the USS John Finn destroyer, a Coast Guard cutter, and other small boats from nearby Navy ships.
The AAV is the Marine Corps’ workhorse amphibious landing vehicle, designed to transport Marine surface assault elements onto shorelines and support them onward to inland objectives. Known among Marines as an “amtrac,” the AAV is a tracked vehicle that operates both as a boat and a ground vehicle. Unlike landing vessels used in World War II, the AAV transports landing Marines through the deadly surf zone and allows them to disembark farther inland.
As per military policy, the name of the deceased Marine will be withheld until next of kin notification.