WASHINGTON — A sailor from the destroyer Stethem is missing in the South China Sea, U.S. Pacific Fleet confirmed Tuesday, triggering a search-and-rescue operation inside the contested waters. 

The sailor was reported missing at 9 a.m. local time on Tuesday. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer Sazanami and helicopter carrier Izumo were assisting in search-and-rescue efforts early Wednesday morning local time, U.S. Pacific Fleet said. 

Joint Personnel Recovery Center Hawaii is also assisting in the search.

This is the second major search-and-rescue effort in the Asia-Pacific region this summer. The first one in June ended after a 50-hour search off Okinawa, only to discover days later the the missing sailor had been hiding in the engineering spaces.

The Navy lost a sailor earlier in June off the cruiser Normandy off the coast of North Carolina. 

David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News. Before that, he reported for Navy Times.

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