Written by By Maci Emry, CNN
A group of Marines rescued by Japanese maritime authorities after getting swept out to sea by a strong current have been reunited with their families in Japan.
The group, which included seven Marines from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and several members of the Japanese Navy, got into difficulty while snorkeling off the coast of Okinawa on Saturday, according to the US Marine Corps.
The Marines had been participating in an environmental cleanup near the Japanese island. While trying to get back to shore, the group was swept out to sea. They were saved on Sunday by the Japanese Coast Guard, which deployed a ship and helicopter to find them.
“They got completely sucked out to sea by a strong current and were out for approximately one day with no food and water,” Capt. Matthew Smektala, a Marine Corps spokesman, said in a statement. “They survived by using whatever they could find.”
Twelve Marines from Camp Lejeune were transferred into the custody of the Japanese Coast Guard and transported back to Okinawa on Saturday. The remaining six Marines were carried by the ocean back to shore. Two of them were injured and were transferred by helicopter to the US Marine Corps’ Camp Fuji in Sasebo, Miyagi Prefecture, for treatment. The identities of the Marines have not been released by the Marines.
Smektala said the incident highlights how important it is to be vigilant about ocean swells.
“Any time Marines gather in a group, they work on patrols to promote safe ocean travel. The quality of ocean travel can often vary greatly and the organization of swimmers, boaters and lifeguards can contribute greatly to their safety. The United States and Japanese governments will continue to work together to ensure safe ocean travel and engage in real-time analysis of ocean conditions.”
The 11 other Marines who were rescued are scheduled to be transferred back to Okinawa by mid-September.
CNN first reported the story.