Defense

Navy allows sailors to move off USS George Washington

The Navy is allowing sailors to move off the aircraft carrier USS George Washington and live at a local installation after a string of deaths over the past year, including three suicides last month alone.

“The Commanding Officer of USS George Washington has taken steps to provide an opportunity to every Sailor who is currently living on the ship to elect to move to off-ship accommodations at a local installation,” Lt. Cmdr. Rob Myers, a Naval Air Force Atlantic spokesperson, told The Hill in a statement.

Myers said that sailors began moving off the ship on Monday and that the move will continue until “all Sailors who wish to move off-ship have done so.”

The move was first reported by Military.com, which obtained a recording of the ship’s commanding officer, Capt. Brent Gaut, announcing the change to sailors Thursday. According to the outlet, 422 sailors are living on board the ship.

The change comes as the Navy deals with fallout after acknowledging that seven sailors assigned to the George Washington died over the past year, including three apparent suicides in mid-April. The Navy also told The Hill last week that three of its sailors died by suicide between November 2019 and October 2020.

The Navy has taken steps to address the mental health of sailors on the ship, including providing tele-mental health services through network providers.

The George Washington is currently docked in Newport News, Va., for a midlife refueling and complex overhaul, which has been ongoing since 2017.

The option to move off the ship will be granted to all sailors, regardless of pay grade. The Navy also scheduled additional buses to transport sailors from the ship to their temporary accommodations.

Myers cautioned, however, that a “certain number of sailors” will have to stay on the ship to run essential equipment, provide essential services to the crew, maintain fire and flooding watches, and provide ship security.  

Tags George Washington military suicide USS George Washington

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