Sunken Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicle located under 385 feet of water

SAN CLEMENTE ISLAND, Calif. — At least one Marine is dead, eight other people are presumed dead and two others are hurt following a “mishap” involving an amphibious assault vehicle off the Southern California coast, officials said early Friday.

Update 4:45 p.m. EDT Aug. 4: The Marine Corps has located the AAV that sank in a training accident last week. According to The Marine Corps Times, the vehicle was found almost a mile off San Clemente Island in 385 feet of water.

Human remains have been found via underwater remote video, according to a news release from I MEF.

The U.S. Navy’s Undersea Rescue Command confirmed that human remains have also been identified using their underwater remotely-operated video systems from the merchant vessel HOS Dominator, a ship specializing in undersea search and rescue.

The Navy has expedited the movement of assets to recover the remains of the Marines and Sailor, as well as raise the AAV. The equipment to properly and safely perform the recovery from the sea floor will be in place at the end of this week, and a dignified transfer of our Marines and Sailor will occur as soon as possible after the conclusion of recovery operations.

The AAV sunk to a depth of approximately 385 feet after taking on water during a shore-to-ship maneuver approximately 1,500 meters off the coast of San Clemente Island. One Marine was pronounced dead at the scene, and seven missing Marines and one Sailor were subsequently presumed dead Aug. 2 as search and rescue efforts ceased.

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Update 10:25 a.m. EDT Aug. 3: Officials have identified the Marine killed and the seven Marines and one sailor presumed dead after a “mishap” during a training exercise Thursday off the coast of California’s San Clemente Island.

Lance Cpl. Guillermo S. Perez, 20, of New Braunfels, Texas, was pronounced dead at the scene last week, officials with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit said. Perez had been a rifleman with Bravo Company, Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 1/4.

Officials identified the eight people presumed dead in the mishap as:

  • Pfc. Bryan J. Baltierra, 19, of Corona California, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4
  • Lance Cpl. Marco A. Barranco, 21, of Montebello, California, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4
  • U.S. Navy Hospitalman Christopher Gnem, 22, of Stockton, California, a hospital corpsman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4
  • Pfc. Jack Ryan Ostrovsky, 21, of Bend, Oregon, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4
  • Cpl. Wesley A. Rodd, 23, of Harris, Texas, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4
  • Lance Cpl. Chase D. Sweetwood, 19, of Portland, Oregon, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4
  • Cpl. Cesar A. Villanueva, 21, of Riverside, California, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4

Two others injured after the amphibious assault vehicle they were training in began to take on water and sink July 30 were identified as a Marine rifleman who remained in critical condition Sunday and a Marine assault amphibious vehicle crewmember who was last listed in stable condition, officials said.

Authorities are investigating the situation.

Update 8:32 a.m. EDT Aug. 2: The search for seven Marines and a sailor who went missing after a training accident was called off Sunday morning, officials said.

None of the missing service members were found. They are presumed dead.

“It is with a heavy heart, that I decided to conclude the search and rescue effort,” Col. Christopher Bronzi, commander of the unit, said in a statement.

The Marines, the Navy and the Coast Guard canvassed more than 1,000 nautical miles during an extensive 40-hour search, Marine Corps Times reported.

The names of the service members will be released 24 hours after next of kin have been notified.

Update 10:07 p.m. EDT Aug. 1: The search continued Saturday for seven Marines and a Navy sailor missing in the ocean near San Clemente Island, KTTV reported. At least one member of the crew is dead after the amphibious assault vehicle sank during a training exercise.

“Our condolences are with the families, please pray for them,” Camp Pendleton’s commanding officers said in a statement.

Two Marines were hospitalized but were later released from the intensive care unit at a San Diego hospital, KTTV reported. The other five people are aboard one of the rescue ships and are in good condition, the television station reported.

Original report: According to the I Marine Expeditionary Force, the incident, which occurred during a training exercise Thursday evening near San Clemente Island, involved members of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

In a statement, Col. Christopher Bronzi, commanding officer of the 15th MEU, said the unit is “deeply saddened” by the incident.

“I ask that you keep our Marines, sailors and their families in your prayers as we continue our search,” he said.

The Navy and U.S. Coast Guard are assisting with search and rescue efforts, officials said.

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