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Sunken AAV Found Off San Clemente Island With Remains Of Missing Marines

SAN DIEGO (CBSLA) – An amphibious assault vehicle which sank last week during a training accident off the coast of San Clemente Island was located in an underwater search Monday. The remains of seven missing Marines and a sailor were inside of it.

Sunken AAV Found Off San Clemente Island With Remains Of Missing Marines
Undersea Rescue Command deploys the Sibitzky Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) from the deck of the Military Sealift Command-chartered merchant vessel HOS Dominator. Undersea Rescue Command is aiding in recovery of the missing seven Marines and one Sailor from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. (U.S. Navy photo by LT Curtis Khol/Released)

The Navy's Undersea Rescue Command located the AAV Monday at a depth of 385 feet using a robotic submarine. Using remotely-operated video technology, the remains of the eight missing service members were discovered inside.

"Undersea Rescue Command is humbled to have worked alongside the Navy, USMC, and Coast Guard to locate our Marine Corps and Navy brethren," said Cmdr Josh Powers, commanding officer of URC, in a statement. "Our sincerest prayers and sympathies remain with their families, friends and fellow Marines and Sailors."

The Navy is working to raise the AAV and recover the remains.

On the evening of July 30, 15 Marines and a sailor were inside an amphibious assault vehicle as part of a routine training exercise when it began to take on water and eventually sank about 1,500 meters off the coast of San Clemente Island.

Seven of those aboard escaped and survived. One Marine who was airlifted to a San Diego hospital died.

Among the victims were three service members from the Southland. They include:

  • Pfc. Bryan J. Baltierra, 18, of Corona, Calif.
  • Lance Cpl. Marco A. Barranco, 21, of Montebello, Calif.
  • Cpl. Cesar A. Villanueva, 21, of Riverside, Calif.

The Marines were based out of Camp Pendleton.

San Clemente Island, the southernmost of the Channel Islands, is located about 78 miles off the coast of San Diego.

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