As a search for a sailor believed to have fallen overboard from the guided-missile cruiser Stethem in the South China Sea enters its third day, two Chinese frigates have joined US and Japanese ships combing thousands of square miles of ocean.
The U.S. 7th Fleet said on Tuesday that U.S. and Japanese ships were looking for an unnamed sailor from the USS Stethem destroyer who had gone missing during a routine operation in an unspecified section of the South China Sea.
In addition to the Stethem, the dry cargo ship Amelia Earhart and offshore petroleum distribution ship Vice Adm. K. R. Wheeler, along with a P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft, have contributed to the search from the Navy, officials said.
It said multiple searches were conducted inside the ship, but to no avail.
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It said the sailor went missing when the USA ship had been more than 100 nautical miles southwest of the contested Scarborough Shoal, but did not elaborate.
The operation was aimed at affirming the right to passage and challenging what the US considers China's excessive territorial claims in the area. The sailor, however, still remains missing.
In June, the US navy said a sailor had been found alive aboard the USS Shiloh after USA and Japanese vessels spent 50 hours searching thousands of square miles of waters off the Philippines.
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