Update: Suicide is to blame in the deaths of at least two of the three sailors from the dry-docked USS George Washington aircraft carrier who died within a week of one another. Retail Services Specialist 3rd Class Mika’il Rayshawn Sharp, 23, who died off-base in Portsmouth on April 9, and Communications Electrician 3rd Class Natasha Huffman, 23, who died off-base in Hampton the following day, both died by suicide, NBC News reports. The third sailor was found dead onboard the aircraft carrier April 15; their identity and cause of death have not yet been revealed. Officials say the deaths, which remain under investigation, are "unrelated," WBZ News Radio reports.
Three sailors from the USS George Washington aircraft carrier have died within a week, prompting a special investigation, according to Navy officials. Retail Services Specialist 3rd Class Mikail Sharp was found dead at an off-base location on April 9, CNN reports. A day later, Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Natasha Huffman was found dead, also at an off-base location. Then on Friday, an unnamed sailor was found unresponsive on the aircraft carrier itself.
"The Sailor was treated by the medical team on board" before being moved to a hospital, where they died, a rep for the Naval Air Force Atlantic told the Navy Times. The Navy did not provide many details, including a cause of death, though a spokesperson told CNN that "there is no initial indication to suggest there is a correlation between these tragic events." The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is investigating alongside authorities in Newport News, Va., where the nuclear-powered Nimitz-class aircraft carrier has been undergoing "mid-life refueling" since August 2017, per Defense News.
The outlet reports the typically four-year process is "now delayed by more than a year, due to new work that emerged during the repair and pandemic-related labor challenges." Newport News Shipbuilding now expects the refueling and complex overhaul to be complete in December, more than five years after the start date. A Special Psychiatric Rapid Intervention Team is now on site to provide mental health support to sailors, per CNN. (Read more Navy stories.)