HANOI, Vietnam - A U.S. Navy ship is participating in the search for the remains of more than 1,000 U.S. servicemen missing from the Vietnam War, the first time an American vessel has taken part, embassy officials said Friday.
The USNS Bruce C. Heezen, an oceanographic survey ship, is conducting a search mission off the coast of Vietnam, part of an ongoing effort between the two countries to recover the remains of more than 1,300 U.S. servicemen still unaccounted for in Vietnam.
Joint teams from the two countries have searched underwater sites off the Vietnamese coast before, but previously they used Vietnamese boats, according to an embassy statement released Friday.
The U.S. ship has equipment that makes it ideally suited for detecting aircraft crash sites on the ocean floor, the embassy statement said.
"The use of a U.S. Navy oceanographic survey ship ... could significantly expedite the discovery of underwater crash sites," the statement quoted Lt. Col. Todd Emoto as saying.
Emoto is the commander of the U.S. Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command detachment in Hanoi.
The United States and Vietnam have been working together to account for missing U.S. servicemen since the 1980s. The current search is their 95th mission. It began on May 25 and is scheduled to end on June 24.
Nearly 1,800 U.S. servicemen are still unaccounted for throughout Southeast Asia following the Vietnam War, which ended in 1975. Some 1,336 are unaccounted for in Vietnam alone.
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