The Navy has released the identity of a sailor reported ‘man overboard’ from the USS Abraham Lincoln while it was in the Arabian Sea last week.
Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class Slayton Richard Saldana, 24, was reported missing at around 6:30 a.m. local time on July 17.
Following the reports, the search effort became an international collaboration, with the carrier Lincoln working with the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf, the Spanish frigate Méndez Núñez and Pakistan Navy frigate Aslat.
Once the multi-day search-and-rescue mission ended on Friday, Saldana was listed as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown, or DUSTWUN, the Navy’s term for a missing sailor.
The Navy identified Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class Slayton Richard Saldana as the sailor missing from the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln since the morning hours of July 17
The sailor went missing from the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln while it was operating in the Arabian Sea last week
He is assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 5, and reported to the Norfolk, Virginia-based ‘Nightdippers’. It’s part of Carrier Air Wing 7, assigned to the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group.
A native of Manassas, Virginia, Saldana joined the Navy on April 8, 2015.
He completed advanced training in helicopter maintenance at the Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit in Norfolk last summer, the Navy Times reported.
This was his first deployment, and the squadron was his first operational command, according to Military.com.
The sailor’s fiance told the Bryan Times that his belongings were found on the side of a ship catwalk early Wednesday morning.
Lexi Posey, 22, of Bryan, Ohio, wrote on Facebook: ‘What baffles myself and the rest of the family the most is that Slayton is not the type of person to act on impulse.’
‘If you did jump, I truthfully believe it wasn’t to commit suicide,’ she wrote.
‘Because if you wanted to die you would have had your boots on. Because your boots would have held you down more and made it more difficult to stay afloat.. If you wanted to die you wouldn’t have jumped with your float coat on. I truly, truly believe that you wanted to swim to me,’ Posey wrote.
Saldana’s fiance Lexi Posey, 22, said his belongings had been found on the side of a ship catwalk
The couple, seen in Facebook pictures, had been together for more than three years and was supposed to get married in April
She claimed that Saldana ‘hated the military.’
The couple had been together for more than three years and was supposed to get married in April, according to Posey’s Facebook post.
‘And when I got out of the military we were going to have an alpaca farm with a few pugs running around and snorting,’ she wrote.
Posey set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the sailor’s family.
‘Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and shipmates of our lost Sailor,’ said Vice Adm. Jim Malloy, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet, and Combined Maritime Forces.
‘During this tragic time, I want to thank the Spanish Álvaro de Bazán-class frigate Méndez Núñez for their assistance in the search operations, and all the Sailors involved in the search for their valiant efforts to find our shipmate.’
Saldana is the first U.S. service member lost at sea since August 2018, when a Marine from the assault ship Essex and a Navy officer from the cruiser Lake Erie were lost overboard within weeks of each other during separate deployments in the Pacific, according to Military.com.
The Abraham Lincoln became the most-watched aircraft carrier in the world after it was sent to the Middle East in May after what Washington called an ‘imminent threat’ from Iran.
The carrier and its strike group, comprised of four vessels including destroyers and cruisers, were hastily redirected to the Arabian Sea from operations in the Mediterranean.
Although the Lincoln will shift to California at the end of this deployment, the squadron Saldana was assigned to is based in, and will return to, Norfolk.