By LUIS MARTINEZ, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Navy has ended its search-and-rescue operations in the North Arabian Sea for a sailor who is believed to have gone overboard from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, according to the Navy’s 5th Fleet, which is responsible for Navy operations in the Middle East.
The search-and-rescue operations were launched on the evening of Sept. 6, after Petty Officer 2nd Class Ian McKnight was not found aboard the carrier during a thorough search of the ship.
The Nimitz and the guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton began an immediate search of the nearby waters.
The search soon grew to include U.S. Navy and Air Force aircraft.
“We are deeply saddened as we call off the search for IT2 Ian McKnight,” said Capt. Max Clark, commanding officer of USS Nimitz. “We hold his family and friends in our hearts during this difficult time.”
McKnight will remain listed as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown (DUSTWUN) and the incident remains under investigation.
“The strike group team sends our thoughts and prayers to the family of Petty Officer McKnight,” said Rear Adm. Jim Kirk, commander of the Carrier Strike Group 11. “And I offer my thanks to all the Sailors and Airmen who were involved in the search for our shipmate.”
The Nimitz is currently operating in the waters of the Middle East as the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 11.
The carrier began its deployment in late April, during the height of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Its crew of almost 5,000 sailors was quarantined aboard the ship in its homeport of Bremerton, Washington, for several weeks before it deployed to ensure that there were no active cases of the coronavirus aboard the ship.
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