Sailors move to a local Navy facility as the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier continues years of refueling and overhauling at the Newport News, Virginia shipyard. Over the past 12 months, seven crew members have died, including four suicides, prompting the Navy to open an investigation into the leadership climate and culture aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.
The commander of the aircraft carrier, Captain Brent Gott, has made the decision to allow sailors living on the ship to move to other accommodations, according to a statement from the Atlantic Naval Air Force. On the first day of the move, which began on Monday, more than 200 sailors left the carrier and moved to a nearby naval facility.
“The transport plan will continue until all seafarers who wish to leave the ship do so,” the statement said. Although the carrier does not have nearly 5,000 sailors, the ship still had between 2,000 and 3,000 sailors living aboard during the repair process.
The ship’s leadership is working to identify seafarers who can “benefit and desire the support services and morale, well-being, and recuperation (MWR) programs” available at local naval facilities. The Navy is in the process of setting up “temporary accommodations” for these sailors, according to an earlier statement from the Atlantic Naval Air Force.
“Command is actively implementing these actions and is pursuing a number of additional moral and personal welfare measures and support services for designated members of the USS George Washington.”
The deaths aboard the carrier, Rep. Eileen Luria, a 20-year Navy veteran whose area includes multiple military facilities, sent a letter to the chief of naval operations, Admiral Michael Gilday, to demand immediate action to ensure the safety of the crew.
“Each of these deaths is a tragedy, and the number of incidents within a single command, which include as many as four sailors committing suicide, is of great concern that requires immediate and rigorous investigation,” Luria wrote last week, noting that the bureau had received complaints about the quality of life on board the ship. And the toxic atmosphere.