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3 US sailors from same aircraft carrier found dead in a week

Newport News Shipbuilding hits two major milestones on refueling and overhaul of USS George Washington (Photo by Matt Hildreth/TNS)
April 19, 2022

Three U.S. Navy sailors assigned to the same aircraft carrier have been found dead in a single week. Their causes of death have not yet been revealed.

CNN reported Monday the three sailors were each found dead inside in less than a week. All three sailors were assigned to the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN-73), which is currently at its homeport in Newport News, Virginia.

The most recent of the three sailors was found unresponsive onboard the carrier on Friday. The two other sailors were found at unspecified off-base locations on April 9 and 10.

The Navy identified Retail Services Specialist 3rd Class Mikail Sharp as the sailor found on April 9 and Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Natasha Huffman as the sailor found on April 10. The third sailor has not yet been identified.

Naval Air Force Atlantic spokesman Michael Maus told Navy Times that the sailor found unresponsive onboard the carrier on Friday “was treated by the medical team on board before being transported to Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News where the service member passed away.”

Maus said the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is overseeing the investigation into the death of the sailor on board the aircraft carrier and said the ship’s command continues to cooperate with investigators.

The investigation into the deaths of the sailors on April 9 and 10 is being carried out by local authorities

“The Navy is cooperating with local authorities where both incidents have occurred, as both incidents remain under investigation,” Maus said. “Our thoughts and condolences are with the family, friends and shipmates of our Sailors.”

The Navy did not disclose any details about how any of the three sailors died. CNN reported the ship did bring a Special Psychiatric Rapid Intervention Team on board. The psychiatric team specializes in providing short-term mental health support, especially after traumatic events like a loss of life.

The USS George Washington is currently in Newport News as part of an extended refueling and complex overhaul process. The Navy performs these complex overhauls for the Nimitz-class aircraft carriers at about halfway through the 50-year service life of each carrier. The overhaul process has an expected four year completion time and serves as an opportunity for the service to complete any major repairs or upgrades to the ship.

The overhaul process for the George Washington began in 2017 and had previously been scheduled to wrap up last year. Last month, Defense News reported the overhaul process had fallen more than a year behind schedule as the need for new work became apparent during the overhaul process and the service dealt with pandemic-related workforce shortages. The Navy now expects to complete the overhaul process by December; a more-than five-year span of time.