NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The U.S. Navy is investigating the death of a sailor assigned to the USS Montana, a spokesperson for Submarine Force Atlantic confirmed to 13News Now.
The spokesperson said the sailor was found unresponsive Monday on the pier adjacent to the USS Montana by another crew at Newport News Shipbuilding.
The sailor was taken to Riverside Regional Medical Center and was pronounced dead.
"We deeply mourn the loss of our shipmate, and our thoughts and prayers are with the sailor’s family, friends, and coworkers during this difficult time," the spokesperson wrote in a statement. "The U.S. Navy is cooperating fully with authorities and the incident remains under investigation.”
A spokesperson for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) confirmed that what it called "a thorough investigation" into the sailor's death is underway but declined to comment any further.
Several of Virginia's elected officials weighed in after 13News Now reached out for comment.
“I’m heartbroken to hear of another Sailor’s passing here in Southeast Virginia," U.S. Rep. Jen Kiggans (VA-02) said in a statement. "As we await further details, my prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time.”
U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott (VA-03) shared the following statement with 13News Now:
“While we wait for the results of the investigation, I want to send my condolences to the sailor’s family, loved ones and fellow sailors.”
U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine said he was heartbroken for the sailor's loved ones and the entire Navy community.
"While we don’t yet know all the details surrounding this death, any loss in our servicemember community is a tragedy and I will continue to monitor the situation for more information as it becomes available," Kaine said.
U.S. Sen. Mark Warner said his office reached out to the Navy to learn more about the circumstances surrounding this tragedy.
"It’s always a tragedy whenever an American sailor loses their life," Warner wrote. "My heart goes out to the sailor’s family and loved ones, as well as the entire crew of the USS Montana."
A spokesman for Newport News Shipbuilding also weighed in.
Media Manager Todd Corillo said: "Out of respect for our customer and to protect the privacy of military families, Newport News Shipbuilding does not discuss deaths of our U.S. Navy teammates with the exception of a workplace accident. Our condolences go out to the sailor's family and friends, and our shipbuilders, during this time of loss."
The Virginia Class fast attack submarine Montana was commissioned in June, 2022 and is now undergoing its post-shakedown availability at the shipyard.
This death follows eight apparent sailor suicides in the past 11 months in the Hampton Roads area.
The Secretary of the Navy assured lawmakers on Tuesday that the department is addressing the need to improve access to mental health care.
"We actually have additional funds, upwards of $200 million dedicated to this, in addition to the actual human element of trying to bring everyone together to try to solve this very, very graves problem that we face as a nation and as a Navy as well," said Carlos Del Toro, testifying before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on defense.
The Navy's recently-released "Mental Health Playbook" is designed to encourage mental health conversations between commanders and their sailors, and eliminate any stigma associated with seeking help.