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Sailor declared dead after falling overboard US warship

Seaman Recruit David L. Spearman, from North Carolina, taken at Recruit Training Command Great Lakes. (U.S. Navy photo)
August 05, 2022

The U.S. Navy has ended search efforts and declared a sailor deceased after he fell from a guided-missile destroyer as it sailed through the Baltic Sea on Monday.

The Navy first identified the lost sailor on Thursday as Seaman Recruit David L. Spearman, a native of North Carolina. Spearman remains lost at sea and his body has not been recovered.

Spearman was assigned to the USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51).

It is not yet clear what conditions led to Spearman falling overboard from the ship on Monday.

Spearman, 19, enlisted in the Navy in November, the News & Observer reported. Spearman was assigned to the USS Arleigh Burke in April after completing Surface Warfare Engineering School Command, Great Lakes, Ill.

“This bright, young man made an oversized positive impact on Arleigh Burke,” USS Arleigh Burke commanding officer Cmdr. Pete Flynn said in a news release provided to The News & Observer. “My entire crew’s thoughts and prayers are with Seaman Recruit Spearman’s family and friends. We offer our most sincere condolences for their loss.”

The USS Arleigh Burke is currently operating in the Baltic Sea with the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), with embarked 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). According to the Navy, the Kearsarge ARG-MEU is operating alongside allies and partners in the Baltic Sea.

The Kearsarge ARG-MEU’s presence in the region “demonstrates the U.S.’ commitment to the region and to improving capability and capacity across like-minded nations,” the Navy said.

Allied forces from Germany and Sweden participated in search efforts for Spearman this week, the News & Observer reported.

The New York Post reported the Navy ended its search efforts for Spearman on Tuesday.

Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Ian McKnight was another sailor lost at sea after falling overboard in September of 2020. McKnight was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) when he went overboard as the ship sailed through the Arabian Sea.

McKnight was determined to have fallen overboard on Sept. 7, 2020, after a ship-wide search was unable to locate him aboard the aircraft carrier.

“The U.S. Navy has ended search and rescue efforts for Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Ian McKnight,” the Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet said on Sept. 9, 2020.

Another sailor was declared dead after being lost at sea in December of 2020. The Navy called off search efforts for the sailor — who was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) — after a 55-hour search spanning 607 nautical miles. The sailor was later identified as Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Apprentice Ethan Goolsby, 20.