Editor’s note: this story has been updated.
The second-in-command of the littoral combat ship Marinette died late last month after he was found unresponsive aboard the vessel, according to defense and civilian officials.
Cmdr. Jonathan Volkle, 44, was found Oct. 27 and pronounced dead at a nearby hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, according to the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office.
The Navy did not announce the command triad member’s death at the time and did not respond to questions regarding the cause of Volkle’s passing on Wednesday.
But a defense official, who Navy Times granted anonymity to speak on the matter, said a preliminary probe indicates that Volkle died by suicide.
Cuyahoga officials said Wednesday that a death determination is pending.
“The incident is currently under investigation, and as a matter of policy, the Navy does not comment on ongoing investigations,” Marinette’s parent command, Naval Surface Forces Atlantic, added in a statement.
Command spokesman Lt. Cmdr. David Carter said Volkle’s death was not announced “out of respect for the family and their privacy.”
While Volkle was in a leadership position, Carter said in an email that “an individual’s command position doesn’t automatically trigger a release, nor does policy require it.”
The Navy is providing chaplain and mental health support to Marinette’s crew, and Cmdr. Janet Brooms has been assigned as the new executive officer, according to Surface Forces Atlantic.
A married father of two, Volkle was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He earned his commission in 2007 and pinned on his current rank in 2022.
Marinette joined the littoral combat ship fleet in September. It had been stuck in the Great Lakes due to a strike by Canadian employees of the St. Lawrence Seaway, which prevented the ship from entering the Atlantic Ocean and heading to its homeport in Mayport, Florida, USNI News reported.
SURFLANT confirmed Wednesday that the ship is now on its way to Mayport.
Troops, veterans and family members experiencing suicidal thoughts can call the 24-hour Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-8255, text 838255, or visit VeteransCrisisLine.net.
Geoff is the editor of Navy Times, but he still loves writing stories. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at email@example.com.