WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy has identified a missing sailor who is believed to have fallen overboard from the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier last week while it was operating in the Arabian Sea.
A search and rescue effort has been called off and Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class Slayton Saldana has been listed as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown, which means the Navy believes he is missing but cannot be confirmed dead, the Navy said in a statement on Monday.
Saldana was assigned to the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 5, part of the Carrier Wing 7, assigned to the Lincoln Carrier strike group.
Following the “man overboard report” on July 17, the USS Abraham Lincoln, the USS Leyte Gulf, patrol aircraft and the Spanish Álvaro de Bazán-class frigate Méndez Núñez conducted search and rescue operations in the Arabian Sea area, where it was reported the sailor was missing.
“The search and rescue operations were concluded on July 19, after extensive attempts to locate the Sailor,” the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet which oversees operations in the region said in a statement.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and shipmates of our lost sailor,” Vice Adm. Jim Malloy of the U.S. 5th Fleet said.
The USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group was deployed to the Middle East in May due to a “number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” from Iran, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said at the time.
Prior to that deployment, the U.S. Navy had been without an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf since early April, when the USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group departed to head to the Mediterranean for exercises with the Lincoln Carrier Strike Group, according to the U.S. Naval Institute’s Fleet and Marine Tracker.