SYDNEY : The US Marine Corps Sunday ended efforts to rescue three missing service members after an American military aircraft crashed during an exercise off Australia. Following the incident involving a MV-22 Osprey -- a hybrid helicopter-turboprop with a chequered safety record -- Japan's defence minister asked Washington to temporarily stop flying them in his country.

Twenty-three personnel were quickly saved following Saturday's incident off the Australia coast. But three marines remained missing despite an air and sea search. "Operations have now shifted to recovery efforts. The next-of-kin for the three missing Marines have been notified," US Marines based in Japan said in a statement. "As the sea state permits, recovery efforts will be conducted to further search, assess and survey the area, in coordination and with assistance from the Australian Defence Force."

Defence Minister Marise Payne said Sunday the Royal Australian Navy was deploying a survey ship, HMAS Melville, as well as a navy dive team to the area to help the recovery operation.

"Our thoughts are with all those affected by this tragic event and the Australian government stands ready to support the US further in any way we can," she added.

The Marines said the recovery and salvage operations could take several months to complete, while the cause of the crash was being investigated. The MV-22, which is half-helicopter half-turboprop, has two engines positioned on fixed wingtips that allow it to land and take off vertically. It can travel much faster than a helicopter.