The US Navy has allowed sailors to live off the USS George Washington and use a local installation as their living quarters after a series of sailor deaths over the last year. An investigation has been launched after three deaths within a week of each other last month.
In a statement to The Hill, Naval Air Force Atlantic spokeswoman Rob Myers said the commanding officer of USS George Washington has taken steps to give everyone who is currently living on the ship the chance to move to off-ship accommodation at a local installation. He said the changes were implemented Monday. The off-ship move will continue until all sailors who prefer to live off of the carrier have done so.
The developments came after mounting pressure on the U.S. Navy over a string of deaths of sailors assigned to the USS George Washington. The Navy said seven sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier died by apparent suicide last week. The carrier is undergoing extended periods of overhauling in Virginia, and the deaths took place on the carrier's behalf. Four of the deaths took place in 2021, and the last three occurred within a week last month.
A member of the crew told CBS News that Big Navy has left us out to dry. The USS George Washington docked shipyard where the USS George Washington is docked can be hot, cramped, and loud, as the working and living conditions on the carrier are challenging for the sailors, according to the outlet.
The Navy has launched an investigation into sailor deaths. The Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner confirmed in April that three of the deaths were determined to have been suicides. One sailor died April 9, another April 10, and the third died at Riverside Regional Medical Center on April 15 after being found unresponsive on the ship and transported to the hospital.
In a March press release, the Navy said sailors taking their own lives through suicide is one of the top three causes of death annually in the United States Navy. The Navy said that many of its sailors who struggle with suicidal thoughts are afraid of being treated differently if they admit to their mental health struggles.
In 2020, 580 service members died by suicide, which is a 16% increase from the number in 2019 according to data from the U.S. Department of Defense. In 2020, 19 out of 100,000 Navy members died by suicide, according to the data.