- Search for eight service members has been called off and all are presumed dead
- All were missing after their amphibious assault vehicle sank Thursday
- The vessel went down in 600 feet of water off the coast of Southern California
- Eight other marines were rescued from the water Thursday, and one died
- The HOS Dominator ship joined continued search and rescue efforts
- The Marines suspended use of amphibious assault vehicles on Friday
- Names were not released of the dead, believed to be between mid-30s and 18
A search for eight service members has been called off and all are presumed dead, after their amphibious assault vehicle sank in deep water off the coast of Southern California.
The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit tweeted early Sunday that the rescue operation was now a recovery mission, after a 40-hour search that covered 1,000 nautical miles.
The seven marines and one sailor have been missing since their amphibious assault vehicle sank in 600-feet deep water near San Clemente Island in Los Angeles County about 5:45pm Thursday.
Eight more marines who were on the vessel when it sank were rescued from the water, and one died in hospital.
The troops were wearing full combat gear and flotation devices at the time of the disaster.
Next of kin were notified, the unit said in the social medial post.
The names of the victims have not yet been released by military officials.
'Keep our 15thMEU families in your thoughts and prayers,' the Marines said on Twitter.
'I know all of us in the USMC family are extremely saddened following the announcement of the end of SAR operations,' added General David H. Berger, 38th Commandant of the United States Marine Corps in comments he tweeted following the announcement.
'This difficult decision was made after all resources were exhausted.'
The marines said they conducted an extensive '40-hour' search. More than 1,000 square nautical miles were covered.
The submarine support ship HOS 'Dominator' had joined the search Friday.
One sailor and 15 Marines were inside the 26-ton military vehicle when it sank into the Pacific Ocean Thursday.
The Marines have suspended the use of the amphibious assault vehicles in water while they are inspected.
Eight marines were rescued from the water after the vehicle sank. One marine was taken to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla where he died.
Two injured marines were taken to San Diego-area hospitals where one is in a critical condition and the other is stable.
A marines spokesperson was not immediately available when DailyMail.com reached out for an update.
The Marine Expeditionary Force is the Marine Corps' main war fighting organization. There are three such groups which are made up of ground, air and logistics forces.
Berger said during a press conference at Camp Pendleton that all their AAV's will undergo a review.
'All AAVs across the fleet will be inspected,' said Gen. Berger, USNI News reports.
'This is to ensure out of an abundance of caution that we take the time, give the time to the recovery and find out what actually happened. [AAV] units can continue to train ashore. We’ll wait until we have a better picture.'
But it's unclear how long the wait will be because the sheer depth of the AAV's descent into the water complicated matters.
Gen. Osterman added that the AAV 'is really below the depth that a diver could do.
'So we are working and we really owe an incredible gratitude and thanks to our Navy and Coast Guard brethren who’ve helped us in this endeavor. They are actually working with us to provide assets that can basically get down and take a look at the AAV.'
Search and rescue options began immediately after the AAV sank.
At the time of the accident, the Marines had been training on San Clemente Island and were returning to the amphibious warship USS Somerset.
'An immediate response was provided by two additional [AAVs] that were with them…. as well as a safety boat,'said Osterman.
The island, which sits about 78 miles from Camp Pendleton, is managed by the Navy and houses a number of training facilities.
The New York Times reports that two nearby amphibious vehicles witnessed the AAV sink and were able to positively identify the exact location.
'The adjacent A.A.V.’s watched it go down, and at 26 tons, the assumption is that it went down to the bottom,' said Lt. Osterman.
He estimated that oldest service member aboard was in their mid-30s and the youngest was near 18-years-old.
'This mishap is under investigation. We will share the results of it once it is complete,' said Gen. Berger.
There are about 800 AAVs in the Marine's inventory and each weighs 26 tons and can carry up to 21 people.
In 2017, 15 Marines were injured when a AAV they were training in caught fire at Camp Pendleton.
Marines have utilized the vehicles to move troops from water to land since the 1970s.