The commanding officer of the cruiser Philippine Sea died Saturday after, the result of injuries sustained in a fire at his home on Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida. , according to a Navy release.
The base fire department responded to the report of the fire and discovered the 50-year-old Capt. Wesley Smith unresponsive in his home. He was transported to Naval Hospital Jacksonville, where he was pronounced dead.
An Navy official with knowledge of the internal reports said Smith is believed to have likely died of cardiac arrest brought on by smoke inhalation, though an official cause has not been determined, a Navy official said.
Carrier Strike Group 2Two boss Rear Adm. Brian Luther offered his sympathies in a statement posted on Navy.mil.
"We offer our sincere condolences to Capt. Smith's wife and children, his family and the entire USS Philippine Sea crew and family," Rear Adm. Brian Luther, the Carrier Strike Group 2 boss, said in a release posted Monday the release read. "They are in our thoughts and prayers as we deal with this tragic loss. Capt. Smith served the Navy and our nation honorably and with great distinction. We honor his outstanding contributions to our Navy and this nation."
Smith, 50, is survived by his wife and two children. The Virginia native joined the Navy in 1990 via the Officer Candidate School and previously commanded the destroyer The Sullivans.
He has been in command of Philippine Sea since October 2013. Cmdr. Nathan Rowan, the ship's executive officer, has assumed command of the ship until a permanent replacement is named.
Smith, 50, a surface warfare officer, assumed command of Philippine Sea in October 2013. He is from Virginia and entered the U.S. Navy in March, 1990. He previously commanded guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG 68). He is survived by his wife and his two children.
Planning for a memorial service and funeral arrangements is ongoing. The ship is pier-side in Mayport, Florida.
David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News.