Amidst a raft of suicides, other deaths, miserable living conditions and media scrutiny of the aircraft carrier George Washington in recent weeks, the ship’s commanding officer told the crew Thursday that 260 affected sailors will be moved off site as the ship wraps up years of maintenance in Newport News, Virginia, according to media reports.
Naval Air Forces Atlantic officials did not immediately respond to Navy Times queries to confirm details of a Military.com report Friday on the development.
According to a recording of the announcement by ship CO Capt. Brent Gaut obtained by Military.com, sailors will be moved “to an offsite barracks-type living arrangement on Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth.”
Gaut told his crew that the offsite arrangement will end when the ship is four months away from leaving the yard, and that those working watch shifts on the ship will still have to stay there during those stints, according to Military.com.
GW entered its massive overhaul and nuclear reactor refueling maintenance period in August 2017, and Navy officials earlier this year estimated the ship would finally leave the yard in December.
It was originally slated to leave the yard last year, but officials have said that additional work was discovered as the job got underway.
The announcement comes as the crew has suffered three sailor suicides in recent weeks, and at least seven crew deaths overall in the past year.
It follows intense media scrutiny into conditions onboard, and an all-hands call by Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell Smith, who visited the weary crew last week and told them that at least they weren’t living in a foxhole.