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Search and Rescue Operation for US Sailor in South China Sea Expands

Additional US ships have joined the search for a sailor reported missing in the South China Sea on August 1, according to US Naval Institute News. Chinese vessels are contributing to the humanitarian mission as well.

US Navy and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force ships and aircraft started the rescue mission for a sailor stationed on the USS Stethem who reportedly went overboard on Tuesday. By Wednesday, People’s Liberation Army Navy ships had joined the effort.

Officials said the cooperation pointed to the benefits of having sound protocols between foreign navies in place. "I would say that this is a good example of what benefits come from increased positive interaction with the Chinese," an official told USNI News.

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Bonnie Glaser, who leads the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told USNI News that "every navy in the world will set aside issues when it comes to humanitarian assistance and search and rescue," adding that "it’s a good reminder that the Chinese are like everyone else."  

Last month, US officials spent a week searching for a sailor who was also reported missing. After finding the servicemember hiding aboard the USS Shiloh, the US Navy announced that the individual would face court martial under charges of dereliction of duty.

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