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US Navy declares overboard aircraft carrier sailor dead; ends search

Aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kaylianna Genier)
December 12, 2020

The U.S. Navy declared a missing sailor from USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) deceased on Saturday night, two days after the sailor was believed to have gone overboard off the coast of southern California.

The Navy declared the sailor deceased and ended its unsuccessful search late Saturday after a 55-hour search spanning 607 nautical miles, involving six U.S. Navy warships, Coast Guard assets, and various aircraft.

“The loss of our Sailor is felt deeply by all on board,” Capt. Eric Anduze, commanding officer of Theodore Roosevelt, said in a Third Fleet statement to American Military News. “The entire Theodore Roosevelt team sends our deepest condolences to the family of our missing shipmate.”

Rear Admiral Doug Verissimo, commander, Carrier Strike Group Nine, said, “The Carrier Strike Group Nine team sends our thoughts and prayers to the family and loved ones of our missing shipmate. I offer my thanks to all the Sailors and Coast Guardsmen who were involved in the search.”

The sailor had gone missing on Thursday. The Navy said a lookout “spotted what appeared to be a person in the water,” and an exhaustive search was launched.

In a statement provided to American Military News, U.S. Third Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Sean Robertson had said a command-wide muster was called on Thursday after the lookout saw the possible person in the water and one sailor was unaccounted for after the muster.

The sailor’s family has been notified, and the incident is under investigation.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt was sidelined in the spring of this year after a coronavirus outbreak aboard the ship. The aircraft carrier had been deployed in the Pacific but was forced to seek port in Guam after the outbreak began. The Stars & Stripes reported 1,156 sailors tested positive for coronavirus during the outbreak. One sailor aboard the aircraft carrier died of coronavirus-related illness following the outbreak.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt returned to sea on May 21 and returned from its deployment in July.

In October, another sailor assigned to the USS Theodore Roosevelt died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound while on duty. The sailor’s death came on the same day the aircraft carrier was due to be underway for “routine training at sea.”

Sources within the aircraft carrier’s community told Navy Times that the ship’s crew was told in September to expect to deploy again anywhere from November to January, putting them back at sea just months after the completion of their last deployment.

Another Navy sailor assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz went overboard in the Arabian Sea in September. A search and rescue effort was launched for the sailor, Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Ian McKnight, but the search was called off two days later and McKnight was not found.