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More Than 200 Sailors Have Been Moved Off Navy's Aircraft Carrier After Multiple Suicides

More Than 200 Sailors Have Been Moved Off Navy's Aircraft Carrier After Multiple Suicides

An investigation into the conditions aboard the USS George Washington is underway

Two hundred sailors have been moved off a US aircraft carrier after a number of members of the crew died by suicide over the last year, including three people in less than a week in April.

The US Navy has confirmed that the decision has been taken to allow the crew of the USS George Washington to move to a nearby Navy facility as the nuclear-powered vessel goes through a year-long overhaul and refuelling process at the Newport News Shipbuilding yard in Virginia.

The huge vessel is undergoing an overhaul.

In the last 12 month period, seven members of the crew have died, including four by suicide.

That has prompted an investigation into the culture on-board the ship.

The carrier’s commanding officer Captain Brent Gaut said in a statement from Naval Air Force Atlantic that the sailors had been allowed to move into other accommodation.

As of Monday, 200 sailors had already moved off the ship into the separate Naval facility, though there are still thousands to go.

The carrier is not currently at capacity, as it can hold 5,000 sailors, but there are between 2,000 and 3,000 who were staying on-board during the overhaul period.

The UUS George Washington can hold 5,000 sailors.

Gaut said: "The move plan will continue until all Sailors who wish to move off-ship have done so.”

The statement went on to say that the command of the ship is looking to identify sailors who might ‘benefit from and desire the support services and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) programs’ available at the nearby naval facilities.

An earlier statement confirmed that they would be setting up ‘temporary accommodations’ for those identified.

The statement read: "Leadership is actively implementing these and pursuing a number of additional morale and personal well-being measures and support services to members assigned to USS George Washington."

Republican representative Elaine Luria - herself a 20-year Navy veteran - wrote a letter to the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday to ask for assurances on the safety of the remaining crew following the deaths.

Seven soldiers from the aircraft carrier have died in the past year.

She said: "Each of these deaths is a tragedy, and the number of incidents within a single command, which includes as many as four sailors taking their own lives, raises significant concern that requires immediate and stringent inquiry.”

Luria also stated that her office had received complaints about the conditions and climate aboard the USS George Washington, with reports of a toxic atmosphere.

If you’re experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is there to support you. They’re open from 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year. Their national number is 0800 58 58 58 and they also have a webchat service if you’re not comfortable talking on the phone.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: US News