South China Sea Territorial Claims
South China Sea Territorial Claims

Chinese and U.S. Naval ships are working together in the South China Sea, in a search and rescue mission for a missing American sailor, the military said in a statement Thursday.

The sailor, whose name is being withheld, was reported missing from the USS Stethem destroyer around 9:00am local time Tuesday. The ship was “conducting routine operations” in the South China Sea at the time, according to a Navy statement.

The Chinese Navy said it was joining American and Japanese search and rescue efforts "in the spirit of humanitarianism".

This is the Navy’s second effort to find a missing sailor in the Asia-Pacific region within the last two months.

In June, a sailor on the guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh was reported missing off Okinawa, and a 50-hour search ensued. The sailor was discover days later hiding in one of the ship’s engineering spaces.

Beijing claims most of the South China Sea, despite overlapping the territorial claims of several other nations.  It objects to any U.S. naval operations in the area.