Search for three US sailors missing in Philippine Sea expands

TOKYO — Four destroyers have been added to the search for three U.S. sailors still missing following an aircraft crash southeast of Okinawa on Wednesday, the U.S. Navy said Thursday.

Eight of those onboard a C-2A Greyhound plane carrying crew and passengers in a routine transport flight from Marine Corps Air Base Iwakuni in Japan to the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier were rescued after it crashed into the sea on Wednesday.

The Ronald Reagan was leading the search and rescue efforts, which included three U.S. destroyers as well as helicopters and surveillance aircraft.

The search, which had covered more than 320 nautical miles by Thursday morning, was being aided by three destroyers and two helicopter carriers from the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force.

U.S. President Donald Trump took time out from his Thanksgiving celebrations in Florida to offer his support for those involved.

“We are monitoring the situation. Prayers for all involved,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

The incident follows a nonfatal collision between a U.S. destroyer and a Japanese tugboat during a towing exercise on Saturday.

Four other U.S. ships in the U.S. 7th Fleet have been involved in collisions in Asian waters since January, including two that resulted in fatalities.

In August, 10 sailors were killed when the destroyer USS John S McCain collided with an oil tanker off Singapore.

In June, the USS Fitzgerald collided with a cargo ship off Japan, resulting in the deaths of seven U.S. sailors.

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