The US Navy has confirmed that a search and rescue operation is underway in the South China Sea after a sailor reportedly fell overboard from the deck of the USS Stethem.
Ships and aircraft from both the American and Japanese military are now looking for the sailor, who went missing at 9 a.m. local time Tuesday morning, according to a statement that was issued by the Navy.
The two nations have called off their routine joint operation to focus on the search, a Japanese navy spokesman told AFP. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer Sazanami, helicopter carrier Izumo and the Joint Personnel Recovery Center Hawaii have all assisted in the search.
A Navy official says the sailor is a male lieutenant. Multiple searches were conducted inside the ship but the Sailor has not been located.
The search for the Stethem sailor is reported to be the third man-overboard hunt for the US Navy since this summer.
It added that the search operation was carried out on Wednesday too, with Japan's Maritime Self-Defence Force ships assisting the US Navy. The sailor was later found hiding on the ship.