August 10, 2020
Ocean search ends after assault amphibious vehicle sinks, eight presumed dead
CAMP PENDLETON — Eight service members are missing and presumed dead off the coast of San Clemente Island after their assault amphibious vehicle sank Thursday afternoon.

There were 16 service members in the vehicle — 15 Marines and one sailor. Eight have been recovered and a multi-ship, multi-agency search for seven Marines and one sailor has been called off. Two Marines are in critical condition at Scripps Memorial Hospital and five are safely back aboard their ship, Berger said.

They are all based at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton north of Oceanside, the largest military base in California. Some of the Marines are assigned to Battalion Landing Team 1/4, a Marine spokesman told The San Diego Union-Tribune. The unit is attached to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is conducting routine training off the coast of San Diego County near San Clemente Island.

Lt. Gen. Joseph Osterman, the outgoing commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, said the vehicle sank in hundreds of feet of water.
“The AAV is actually in hundreds of feet of water,” Osterman said. “It sank completely. The assumption is it went all the way to the bottom.”

The vehicle, which weighs 26 tons, was about 1,000 meters off the coast of San Clemente Island and returning to its ship when it sank, Osterman said. It is at a depth beyond the reach of divers, he said.

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