The Pentagon on Tuesday announced the death of a sailor who went overboard while underway onboard San Diego-bound USS Abraham Lincoln in the Arabian Sea in mid-July.
Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class Slayton Saldana, 24, had been listed Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown during Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
The incident is still under investigation, said the Department of Defense.
Saldana was assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 5, part of Carrier Air Wing 7, assigned to the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group.
Navy Times reported that Saldana joined the Navy in 2015 and was on his first deployment when he vanished.
In Texas, his father told a San Antonio NBC affiliate that his family wants answers, Military.com reported.
“I just can’t see him doing anything to harm himself or harm his family in any way,” Richard Saldana was quoted as saying. “Maybe a smaller boat could have picked him up. He was resourceful and intelligent, so there’s a lot of unanswered questions in my eyes.”
He had been reported overboard July 17, but search and rescue efforts ended July 19.
Search operations began by USS Leyte Gulf, Patrol Squadron 10, Patrol Squadron 40 and Spanish Álvaro de Bazán-class frigate Méndez Núñez, the Navy said.
The aircraft carrier Lincoln left Norfolk, Virginia, in early April for a deployment that will end at Naval Air Station North Island.
The date “the Abe” arrives isn’t clear, but the Navy has said the homeport change to San Diego is effective Oct. 31, 2019 — Halloween.
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