NEW LONDON, Conn. — A submarine commander is praising the way his crew responded when a sailor intentionally shot himself aboard the Groton, Connecticut-based vessel.
The USS North Dakota was about 170 miles from the base on Jan. 12 when the petty officer shot himself in the shoulder with a government-issued rifle.
The submarine’s skipper, Cmdr. Mark Robinson, said in a post on its Facebook page that the crew acted heroically to treat the sailor and transfer him from the cramped sub to a tug boat at sea at night, The Day of New London reported. The newspaper reported the post has since been deleted.
The sailor’s shipmates held a phone in front of his face so he could watch music videos as the submarine brought him back toward shore, Robinson wrote.
It took about seven hours from the time the sailor shot himself until he was loaded into an ambulance in New London.
The submarine met with up with the tug boat near midnight in heavy seas at the mouth of the Thames River. Robinson wrote that several sailors lashed themselves to the deck of the submarine to make a “human safety net” for the paramedics who assisted the transfer.
The crew disassembled parts of the sub to make it easier to carry the sailor out in a stretcher, and firefighters with help from the crew ultimately hoisted him out through a weapons hatch.
The sailor has been recovering from surgery at a hospital in New Haven.
The newspaper says five submariners took their own lives in 2017.