The commander of the USS George Washington told his crew on Thursday that the ship Navy It will begin removing sailors from the aircraft carrier after a series of suicides and complaints from service members about conditions on board the ship, whose expected departure from the shipyards has again been postponed.
Captain Brent Gott He announced that the ship would move 260 sailors “to an off-site, barracks-type living arrangement at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth” — specifically, the Navy Gateway Inn and Suites — starting Monday, according to a recording of the announcement reviewed by Military. com.
“We will be able to increase that number by about 50 additional beds per week as we find out exactly what is needed,” Gaut continued.
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The Navy confirmed the plan when asked by Military.com, and the spokesman added that the moves would continue “until all sailors who wish to leave the ship do so.”
These moves come at the end of a month that saw the deaths of three sailors on board the ship, after which they committed suicide A series of previously undisclosed suicides Back to at least July of last year.
Military.com has been able to confirm at least five suicides by sailors assigned to a ship in the past 10 months – the Navy has disputed the cause of death for one of those sailors – and eight in total since November 2019.
like that Following a visit by the Supreme Commander of the Navy on April 22 to the shipMaster Chief Petty Officer of Navy Russell Smith, where the crew was told the service was largely powerless to improve conditions.
Smith told a sailor who asked about living conditions that the Navy “may have done a better job of managing your expectations coming here” before telling the crew that raising concerns should be done “with reasonable expectations and then understanding what…what this is. It’s like.”
“What you don’t do is sleep in a hole like a Marine does,” he added.
According to the commanding officer, there are currently 422 sailors on board the ship. Since sailors typically do not receive housing allowance until the rank of E-5, those who live on board while at the shipyard tend to be the youngest members of the crew.
Gaut forged the development as a result of his team’s focus on improving crew quality of life, mental health, and morale.
The captain noted that sailors would still have to sleep on board when they were on duty – a naval practice in which part of the crew stays on board overnight to be ready to respond to emergencies. Gaut also said that sailors would be able to continue living on the ship if they chose to.
Gaut said that arrangement would end about four months before the ship left the shipyard, before giving the crew a date delaying the carrier’s delivery until 2023. The Navy has asked Military.com not to publish the exact date due to concerns about operational safety.
Danny Hernandez, a spokesman for Newport News Shipbuilding, said work on this vessel “is nearing completion and our shipbuilding team is laser-focused on returning a fully recapitalized tanker to the fleet as soon as possible.”
The news comes in the form of details about who died aboard the aircraft carrier and how it slowly emerges amid mixed messages reported by the crew.
Sailors reported this to Military.com Gaut told the crew on April 11 The ship was subjected to nine suicides in nine months. Another death followed on 15 April. Gaut told the crew that it was a suicide, too. The Navy has neither confirmed nor denied that Gaut passed these numbers on to the crew.
When Military.com reached out to the Navy last week, the first lieutenant colonel said. Robert Myers, a spokesperson for the Atlantic Naval Air Force Commander, said the service was aware of only seven deaths — not necessarily suicides — on the ship in the past 12 months.
The Navy did not provide details on the identity of these sailors and referred Military.com to local law enforcement for the death.
A subsequent Navy statement said the April 3 deaths were an “obvious suicide” while the other four deaths in 2021 were as follows: a December suicide; – “Health-related death” in October; “Unspecified” death in July; And another health-related death in May.
The Navy also revealed three additional suicides dating back to November 2019.
This brings the official number to seven deaths in 12 months, with four suicides. Again, no names were provided.
By speaking with crew members and listening to other recordings of Gaut addressing the ship, Military.com has been able to identify some of the other sailors who have died aboard the George Washington in the past nine months.
The Virginia Office of Medical Examiners ruled the July death, which a Navy statement called “unspecified,” as a suicide, according to documents the office provided via email.
However, when Gaut addressed his crew on Tuesday, he said the ship had experienced three suicides and three additional deaths in nine months — contradicting the Navy’s official statements and his earlier statement to the crew, according to sailors who spoke to the military. com.
Regardless of the final count, George Washington has seen a previously unheard of cluster of suicides in recent years, despite alarmingly high suicide rates for service personnel across services.
“While the Navy is a resilient force, we are not immune to the same challenges affecting the nation we serve,” Admiral John Mayer, commander of the Atlantic Naval Air Forces, said in a statement this week.
“My crew and I are working hard every day to ensure that seafarers have support and resources at the shipyards, at sea and in their homes,” he added.
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