A number of deaths aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington prompted its commanding officer to move its sailors. As a result, more than 2000 sailors aboard the ship will now transfer to other accommodations. The US Navy will also open an investigation into the ship’s command climate and culture.
A Spate of Deaths on the USS George Washington
The nuclear-powered USS George Washington is currently undergoing a years-long refueling and overhaul process at Newport News, Virginia. Over the past 12 months, seven crew members died, including four by suicide.
This includes the death of three crew members within a week in April. This prompted the US Navy to open an investigation to determine any liabilities for the spate of deaths among crewmembers.
In addition, Cap Brent Gaut, USS George Washington commanding officer, announced that assigned sailors will seek accommodations outside the ship.
Last Monday, the day of the announcement, some 200 sailors moved to a nearby Navy facility According to a statement from Naval Air Force Atlantic, “The move plan will continue until all Sailors who wish to move off-ship have done so.”
USS George Washington Has 420 Sailors Staying On Board
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington currently has around 2,700 sailors on duty for the overhauling process. This is fewer than the usual 5,000 sailors needed when the ship is on active duty. Among the 2,700 sailors, around 420 are living onboard the ship.
Currently, the USS George Washington’s command is working with Navy officials to identify affected sailors and provide them with support.
Officers encourage crew members who could benefit from the service’s Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) programs to do so. These programs are available at nearby local Naval facilities.
In addition, the US Navy will set up temporary accommodations for displaced sailors. The statement added that the Navy is “pursuing a number of additional morale and personal well-being measures and support services.”
USS George Washington Undergoing Overhaul Since 2017
The USS George Washington is currently undergoing a refueling and complex overhaul at Newport News, Virginia. This is a one-time process to replace the ship’s nuclear fuel and refit the ship for future operations.
As the operation is a highly complex procedure, it will take years for the refuel and refitting to complete. In fact, the USS George Washington has remained at Newport News since August 2017.
The last reported death related to the aircraft carrier was last April. Three sailors assigned to the USS George Washington aircraft carrier were found dead in less than a week.
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service and local authorities investigated the deaths. Two sailors died at different off-base locations on April 9 and 10. Crewmates found the third sailor unresponsive onboard the aircraft carrier last April 15.
Watch the CBS Evening News video reporting that the US Navy is probing 7 suicides among the USS George Washington crew:
What do you think is going on at the USS George Washington that led to seven deaths so far? Are the deaths related to the ship’s overhauling and refueling activities?
Tell us what you think. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.