US Navy ends search for sailor thought lost in west Pacific

The sailor went missing during a joint US-Japanese drill in the South China SeaMore

The Chinese navy has joined a joint U.S.

Rear Admiral Charles Williams, the commander of Task Force 70, offered his prayers for the sailor's loss and thanked all those who participated in the search.

U.S. Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and Peoples Liberation Army (Navy) ships and aircraft suspended search efforts at 3 p.m. local August 4.

The marine was reported to have gone overboard from the destroyer USS Stethem around 9am on Tuesday, according to the US Navy's Pacific Fleet. During that time, the destroyer vessel was conducting routine operations in global waters, about 140 miles west of the Subic Bay in the Philippines.

The US Navy destroyer was accompanied by Military Sealift Command ships USNS Vice Adm. K.R. Wheeler (T-AG-5001) and USNS Amelia Earhart (T-AKE-6); Japan Maritime Self Defense Force ships JS Izumo and JS Sazanami; and two People's Liberation Army Navy frigates, along with U.S. Navy P-3s and Japanese helicopters searching from the air.

The incident is now being investigated.

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But they were "unable to locate" the sailor after an extensive search, Captain Jeffrey Bennett, commander of Destroyer Squadron 15, said in the statement.

In July, the Chinese Foreign Ministry voiced protest over USA destroyer Stethem sailing close to disputed islands in the South China Sea.

While the USA has no territorial claims in the area, it has engaged in "freedom of navigation" missions to challenge China's claims.

A statement on Friday said that US, Japanese and Chinese navy vessels and aircraft combed an area of the South China Sea west of the Philippines.

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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