Navy acknowledges suicides of seven sailors assigned to the USS George Washington

Seven Navy sailors assigned to the USS George Washington have died by suicide in the course of the time the plane service has been present process a yearslong overhaul in Newport Information, Virginia, the Navy mentioned Thursday. 

The Navy acknowledged Thursday that along with the 4 suicides prior to now yr that CBS Information has reported, three extra sailors assigned to the service died by suicide in 2019 and 2020. 

The three suicides from 2019 and 2020 occurred whereas the USS George Washington was beneath the command of Capt. Kenneth Robust. In line with the Navy, Robust left the ship three months forward of schedule due to “particular person incidents of poor judgment and management acumen.” Regardless of his early departure, Robust was awarded a Legion of Advantage for, amongst different issues, successful a rating of 98% on the 2019 Security and Occupational Well being Administration Analysis.

The dwelling and dealing situations on the service current challenges for the sailors. Whereas it is within the shipyard, the George Washington is basically a development zone, the place it may be cramped, sizzling and loud for the crew on board. 

One of many ship’s crew advised CBS Information that “it seems like Massive Navy has left us out to dry. No one cares.”

US aircraft carrier USS George Washington
U.S. plane service USS George Washington is seen throughout its mission within the japanese Mediterranean Sea on February 5, 2017.

USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH / HANDOUT by way of Getty

 After studies that three sailors had died by suicide in a single week in April, the Navy opened an investigation final week into their deaths. It is analyzing whether or not dwelling situations on the service performed a task within the suicides and whether or not the ship’s commanders did all the things they may to make the situations as acceptable as doable.

The USS George Washington’s overhaul is not on time — the COVID-19 pandemic and the necessity for surprising repairs have stored the service within the shipyard for almost a yr longer than anticipated. The service has been docked at Newport Information Shipbuilding for a serious overhaul since 2017.

The Navy’s high enlisted chief, Grasp Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell Smith, visited the service final week and took questions from the sailors. In response to a query about dwelling situations on the ship, Smith mentioned, “I feel we in all probability might have accomplished higher to handle your expectations coming in right here,” in line with audio and a transcript of the go to to the service. 

“What you are not doing is sleeping in a foxhole like a marine could be doing. What you might be doing goes house at night time, most nights,” Smith mentioned, including, “The draw back is a few of the shit that it’s important to undergo logistically will drive you loopy.”

The USS George Washington will not be the primary service to expertise a rash of suicides whereas going via a serious overhaul. In September 2019, three sailors assigned to the USS George HW Bush died by suicide inside one week because the ship was going via a restoration in Virginia. 

The Pentagon in March launched the Suicide Prevention and Response Unbiased Evaluate Committee to overview prevention actions. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby mentioned earlier this month that the committee will look into situations throughout the drive together with for these on ships. 

White Home press secretary Jen Psaki mentioned the president is conscious of the state of affairs, and cares in regards to the psychological well being of service members. 

“Nicely actually the president is commonly briefed and is conscious, and the service of women and men and the stress and the stress on them is one thing that’s on his thoughts, together with ensuring that we’ve the fitting psychological well being care, the fitting remedies for any particular person who could also be affected by despair or something that may result in suicide,” she mentioned. 

For speedy assist if you’re in a disaster, name the toll-free Nationwide Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), accessible 24 hours a day, seven days every week. All calls are confidential.  

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