The Navy on Tuesday identified two of three sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier George Washington who have died in the past 10 days, though few details have been released about what led to their deaths.
Retail Services Specialist 3rd Class Mika’il Rayshawn Sharp was found dead at an off-base location in Hampton, Virginia, on April 9, near where the George Washington is undergoing its mid-life refueling and overhaul work, according to Naval Air Force Atlantic spokesman Cmdr. Robert Myers.
The petty officer listed in June 2020 and put on his current rank March 28.
George Washington was the sailor’s first assignment out of training.
A day later, Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Natasha Huffman was found dead at a separate off-base location in Hampton.
Huffman enlisted in 2018 and joined George Washington the following year.
Her mother, Kathleen Krull, thanked Huffman’s friends for the messages of support in an April 12 Facebook post.
“It’s obvious from all the kind words, that she was loved by many,” Krull wrote. “She had a heart of gold and she always stood up for the underdog. She was fiercely protective of the people she loved.”
“It still doesn’t in some ways feel real to me that my baby girl is gone.”
Last Friday, a third George Washington sailor was found unresponsive aboard the carrier and taken to a local hospital, where they died, Myers said.
That sailor’s identity has not been released as next-of-kin notification is still pending, he said.
The Navy has not released any further information regarding the three deaths.
All three incidents remain under investigation and Myers said “there is no initial indication to suggest that there is a correlation between these tragic events.”
“Chaplains, psychologists, counselors and leadership are engaged with the crew and are providing the appropriate support and counseling to those grieving the unexpected loss of our shipmates,” Myers said.
The deaths of these three sailors come as the carrier continues a lengthy and extended refueling and complex overhaul at Newport News Shipbuilding that began in 2017 and was supposed to be wrapped up last year.
Such overhauls are conducted halfway through a carrier’s 50-year service life to refuel the nuclear power reactor and conduct significant repairs and upgrades over four years of work.
New work emerged during the repairs and the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated labor shortages, officials told sister publication Defense News last month.
That means that if George Washington comes out of the yard in December, as Navy officials predict, its overhaul will have taken more than five years.
Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. I have covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at [email protected].
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism