In this file photo, a Helicopter Sea Combat Control Squadron (HSC 21) crewman looks on while approaching USS Essex (LHD 2) during a vertical replenishment in July. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Adam Brock)

SULU SEA - A combined effort of U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and Philippine ships and aircraft are currently searching for a Marine, assigned to the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) embarked aboard USS Essex (LHD 2). The Marine was reported missing while the ship was conducting routine operations in the Sulu Sea, August 9.

Essex reported a Marine overboard at 9:40 a.m. local time.

The ship’s crew responded promptly to the situation by launching a search and rescue operation.

“As we continue our search operation, we ask that you keep our Marine and the Marine’s family in your thoughts and prayers,” said Col. Chandler Nelms, commanding officer, 13th MEU. “We remain committed to searching for and finding our Marine.”

To date, multiple searches have been conducted inside the ship while embarked aircraft aboard the USS Essex conduct round-the-clock search and rescue operations within the Sulu Sea and Surigao Strait. In addition, U.S. Navy P-8 aircraft and Philippine Coast Guard vessels have expanded the search area. Together, the response has covered roughly 3,000 square nautical miles.

"It is an all-hands effort to find our missing Marine," said U.S. Navy Capt. Gerald Olin, commander, Amphibious Squadron One and the on-scene commander of the search and rescue operation. "All of our Sailors, Marines, and available assets aboard the USS Essex have been and will continue to be involved in this incredibly important search and rescue operation."

The Marine’s family has been notified.