The investigation will also look at any links or links between the deaths, which come after three of the sailors died of apparent suicide a week earlier this month.
The USS George Washington is in port at Newport News, Virginia, where it is being refueled and overhauled. Seven crew members were killed in the past 12 months.
The four most recent deaths, including three this month, were either confirmed or apparent suicides, Capt. Sarah Self-Kyler, a spokeswoman for US Fleet Forces Command, told DailyExpertNews.
Two of the deaths in May and October 2021 have been determined to be non-suicidal. The cause of death of another sailor in July was undetermined, Self-Kyler said.
DailyExpertNews previously reported that the Navy was investigating the deaths of three sailors from the aircraft carrier. Two sailors were found dead on April 9 and 10 at locations outside the base. A third sailor was found unresponsive aboard the ship on April 15 and died in hospital. The Navy determined those three deaths were apparent suicides, although a definitive cause is still under investigation, Self-Kyler said.
Investigators confirmed a death in December last year was suicide.
The Navy identified the most recent death as Master at Arms Seaman Recruit Xavier Hunter Mitchell Sandor. The Navy identified the sailor found dead on April 9 as Retail Services Specialist 3rd Class Mikail Sharp and the sailor found dead on April 10 as Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Natasha Huffman.
There were also three more deaths from the ship in late 2019 and 2020. Two of those deaths are still under investigation, Self-Kyler said, but the other death in December 2020 is also an apparent suicide.
Although the USS George Washington is based on the West Coast, she has been at the Newport News shipyard since 2017, undergoing Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH), a mid-life process of a carrier that uses its nuclear fuel. and updates its systems . The process was supposed to take two years but has been delayed several times due to the pandemic and other setbacks.
As of April 1, there were 15 suicides among active navy members this year. The three within a week earlier this month bring the total to 18 suicides.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has made tackling the issue of military suicides a priority. Last month, Austin created the Suicide Prevention and Response Independent Review Committee, which will look at the Department of Defense’s efforts to address suicides among troops.
The commission will begin work in May and will visit bases and military installations later this summer. A first report with a preliminary set of recommendations is expected early next year.
“One suicide death is one too many,” Austin wrote in the memo announcing the independent review committee. “And the suicide rates among our Service members are still too high.”
“We definitely want to look at things like the command climate and culture and mission and on-pace, the pace at which we push people. All those things are stressors in life. Some can contribute to the problem of suicides. is something very personal,” Kirby said at a press conference on Thursday.
“Any death is tragic in itself, no matter what. And we, our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the families, and frankly to the shipmates.”
According to the Ministry of Defense, 580 soldiers committed suicide in 2020. The suicide rate has risen in all military branches over the past five years.