Police and the Navy are investigating the circumstances behind the suspected drug overdose deaths of two sailors assigned to Submarine Base Kings Bay in the past week.
Petty Officer 1st Class Brian Jerrell, 25, was found dead in his off-base residence in Kingsland, Georgia, on Thursday due to what Navy officials are calling an apparent drug overdose.
On Monday, Petty Officer 2nd Class Ty Bell, 26, was found dead of an apparent overdose in the same residence, according to Navy officials.
The Kingsland Police Department is leading the investigation but did not immediately provide details on the deaths, citing internet difficulties.
Bell was assigned to the submarine Wyoming, while Jerrell was assigned to the base’s Trident Training Facility.
Cmdr. Sarah Self-Kyler, a spokesperson for Submarine Force Atlantic, said the deaths are no indication of a broader drug abuse issue at Kings Bay or in the community.
“The submarine force is taking these deaths seriously and conducted command-wide urinalysis testing of all Kings Bay-area commands to ensure other Sailors are not involved or threatened by the presence of drugs in the community,” she said in an email.
Commands have been directed to review drug testing programs and look for ways to increase spot checks through more frequent urine testing, unit sweeps and other measures, Self-Kyler said.
Navy guidance calls for a minimum monthly testing of 15 percent of a command’s personnel, with four random testing days and a maximum 40 percent of personnel tested monthly.
Despite these guidelines, Self-Kyler said the submarine community has stricter standards.
Submarine commands randomly test a minimum of 20 percent of personnel a month over six random testing days, she said.
Kings Bay is the east coast home of the Ohio-class submarines.