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DoD doesn't dispute media reports that USS George Washington sailor deaths were suicides

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the Navy's leadership is "looking at what has happened on the George Washington, trying to better understand it."

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The U.S. Navy has begun an investigation after a rash of suspected suicide deaths among sailors on the crew of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington.

According to USNU News, the most recent victim was Xavier Mitchell Sandor.

Officials found him unresponsive onboard the ship on April 15. They transported him to a local hospital, but he was pronounced dead there.

Two other sailors from the ship died earlier this month, both off-base.

Mika'il Sharp died April 9 in Hampton. A day later, Natasha Huffman was found dead, also in Hampton.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby on Friday did not dispute national media reports that these deaths and several others among the crew in recent months were suspected suicides.

Kirby said he did not wish to get ahead of the Navy's investigations.

"Regardless of how these sailors died, we don't want to see any sailor harmed or hurt or lose their life, period, regardless of what the cause is," he said. "But, I can tell you the Navy is taking this very seriously. Navy leadership is taking this very seriously. And they're looking at what has happened on the George Washington, trying to better understand it."

The ship has been undergoing a major overhaul and refueling at Newport News Shipbuilding since 2017. That job is running at least one year behind schedule.

A 2021 Brown University study found that an estimated 30,177 active duty personnel and veterans who have served in the military since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks have died by suicide.

A new independent commission ordered by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will study suicide prevention and behavioral health programs across the services, including site visits, focus groups, interviews, and a confidential survey of troops.

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