California Coast 'Mishap' Leaves One Marine Dead, Eight Others Missing

At least one U.S. Marine has been killed in an accident involving an amphibious vehicle off the coast of Southern California, with several others missing, the Marine Corps has confirmed.

One Marine—as yet unnamed—died in the accident while another two were injured, the I Marine Expeditionary Force said early Friday. Another eight service members are missing. Rescue efforts are underway with support from the Navy and Coast Guard.

Details about the accident remain scarce, and the incident was described by I MEF only as an "AAV mishap," using an acronym for an assault amphibious vehicle—armored vehicles able to operate both at sea and on land. The most common AAV used by the Marine Corps is the AAV-P7/A1, which transfers troops from water to land.

All those involved were assigned to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit based at Camp Pendleton in San Diego County, California. Defense News' David Larter said on Twitter that one of those injured was in a critical condition, with the other stable.

The 15th MEU is made up of around 2,200 service members, assigned to rapid-response, conventional amphibious and other maritime operations. The unit's members have previously served combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, and have also been deployed to anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.

Colonel Christopher Bronzi, the commanding officer of the 15th MEU, said he was "deeply saddened by this tragic incident," according to an I MEF Twitter post. "I ask that you keep our Marines, Sailors, and their families in your prayers as we continue our search," Bronzi added.

The Marine Corps told Business Insider that the accident occurred during a routine training exercise near to the island of San Clemente, close to San Diego. Sixteen Marines were on board the AAV, which entered the water at 5:45 p.m local time.

Business Insider said the rescue effort for those missing includes four helicopters—three from the Navy and one from the Coast Guard—the USS John Finn destroyer, several small boats launched from the USS Makin Island amphibious assault ship, and the USS Somerset and USS San Diego amphibious transport docks. A Coast Guard cutter is also taking part in the operation.

The name of the dead Marine and any other fatalities will be withheld until 24 hours after next of kin have been notified, per normal military procedure. CNN reported that the incident is now under investigation.

Marine Corps, California, AAV, accident, missing, dead
This file photo shows an assault amphibious vehicle being tested at Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, California, on August 27, 2018. Jack J. Adamyk/U.S. Marine Corps