Two active-duty American sailors based at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia died of apparent drug overdose just four days apart, a US Navy public affairs officer said on Tuesday (17 October).
A Navy official told CNN News that they suspected the drug was cocaine but were waiting for the toxicology report. Kingsland Police Department is investigating the case with the United States Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
Petty Officer First Class Brian Jerrell was reported dead on 12 October at his off-base residence, and four days later on 16 October, Petty Officer Second Class Ty Bell was also found dead in the same apartment. Initial reports suggested that Bell owned the apartment.
"Tragically, we have lost two sailors in less than a week to an apparent drug overdose," Sarah Self-Kyler, a spokesperson for US Submarine Forces, confirmed on Tuesday. She added that all the sailors at the base were ordered to undergo urinalysis following the incident.
"The submarine force and Kings Bay leadership are taking these events seriously" and have ordered a urinalysis sweep of all Kings Bay commands "for opportunities to increase various spot checks", she noted.
The tests were reportedly conducted on Monday and Tuesday.
Self-Kyler told ABC News that the two deceased sailors were friends and former shipmates, but they belonged to different commands. Jerrell was assigned to the Trident Training Facility and Bell was assigned to the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Wyoming.
She also said that commanders at the submarine base instructed to review their drug testing programme. All local commanders were also asked to hold "all hands" calls with their crews on the issue following the two deaths.