Breaking News
More () »

Lawmakers speak up, following death of USS Montana sailor

Rep. Rob Wittman offers condolences. Sen. Tim Kaine seeks solutions to prolonged shipyard periods.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — One day after Navy officials confirmed the death of a local sailor, lawmakers are weighing in.

The deceased USS Montana sailor was a third-class petty officer, who enlisted in 2021. He was found unresponsive Monday on a pier at Newport News Shipbuilding, next to his submarine as it undergoes what is called a "post-shakedown availability."

Sadly, this is not the first high-profile death of a sailor whose ship was in the midst of a prolonged maintenance period at the shipyard.

Last April, three USS George Washington sailors are believed to have died by suicide within six days of each other. Their ship has been receiving a complex mid-life overhaul and nuclear refueling at the shipyard since 2017.

Another GW sailor also reportedly died by suicide this January.

Senate Seapower Subcommittee Chair Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) said on Wednesday that the Navy needs to look into the impact that lengthy shipyard assignments can have on personnel.

"The delays in maintenance stretch these periods of kind of inaction out even further," he said. "And it can be a morale-buster for people who expected something else. So, we'll get more facts on this and that will point the direction to answers to some of our questions. But the real issue is, we need solutions."

House Armed Services Committee Vice Chair Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Virginia, 1st District) released a statement. He said: "My prayers are with the family and loved ones of the sailor who tragically lost their life in Virginia. I would like to express my deepest condolences to the entire community as they mourn this incredible loss." 

U.S. Navy Submarine Force Atlantic released the Montana sailor's name Wednesday and provided service record information, but 13News Now has decided to refrain from broadcasting or publishing the name, pending completion of the investigation and confirmation of a cause of death.

Before You Leave, Check This Out