More Than 200 Sailors Leave the USS George Washington After Multiple Deaths Aboard Ship

Any sailors who opt to relocate will be moved to an "offsite barracks-type living arrangement" on Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia

The aircraft carrier USS George Washington
The aircraft carrier USS George Washington. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty

The U.S. Navy is allowing hundreds of sailors to leave the USS George Washington this week following a string of deaths aboard the docked aircraft carrier.

In April, three sailors assigned to the ship were found dead in less than a week, with two of them confirmed to have died by suicide, PEOPLE previously reported. Four other deaths — for a total of seven — have occurred aboard the ship within the last year, according to CNN.

Starting this week, the Navy is allowing sailors living aboard the USS George Washington to leave the ship, the outlet said. More than 200 sailors are said to have moved from the ship as of Monday.

"The move plan will continue until all Sailors who wish to move off-ship have done so," the Naval Air Force Atlantic, which did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment, told CNN.

Any sailors who opt to relocate will be moved to an "offsite barracks-type living arrangement on Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth," the ship's commanding officer, Capt. Brent Gaut, recently explained to the ship's crew, according to

The facility at the Virginia shipyard will initially hold 260 sailors but will be expanded in the coming weeks.

"We'll be able to expand that number at about 50 additional beds per week as we figure out exactly what is needed," Gaut said, as reported by the outlet.

PEOPLE has contacted the Navy for comment.

According to ABC News, the USS George Washington, which is nuclear-powered, has been undergoing a lengthy refueling and overhaul process in Virginia since 2017.

The father of Xavier Sandor, one of the crew members who died, told NBC News that his son experienced hardship living aboard the ship. Once he finished his 12-hour shifts, Xavier told his father he would sleep in his car with a thick blanket instead of remaining on the carrier.

"He always said it sucked, and I'd always say to ask for help," dad John Sandor recalled. "He'd say, 'Dad, they don't give a f—. They don't care.' That was always his response to me."

Naval Air Force Atlantic Commander Rear Adm. John Meier recently expressed his sorrow following the deaths of the sailors.

"The tragic events that have transpired involving Sailors assigned to the USS George Washington is a sad reminder of the heartbreak and sorrow that follow the loss of a friend, family member, or shipmate," he told ABC News.

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"While the Navy is a resilient force, we are not immune from the same challenges that affect the nation that we serve," Meier continued.

Of the 2,700 crew members belonging to the USS George Washington, only about 400 lived aboard the ship as of last week, ABC News said.

If you or someone you know needs mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to

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