U.S. Navy Will Review Training Procedures After Third Trainee Dies In California Pool During Training Exercise

The Navy is reviewing the procedures that help keep track of trainees who do not scale through the grueling courses that make them SEALs. This development is coming in the wake of three sailors who died after participating in training classes, military officials have said.

As ABC News reports, two of the deaths involved trainees who did not make it past BUDS training (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL), a prerequisite training for sailors who want to join the covert special operations unit.

In April, a 23-year-old seaman Daniel DelBianco killed himself because he did not make it through “hell week,” an intensive seven days that build up to the BUDS training. During this time, potential seals are deprived of sleep and made to endure difficult physical conditions to see if they can remember their military training in times of severe duress.

In November, Caplen Weare, a petty officer 2nd Class, died in a drunk driving accident. The fatal accident occurred after he willingly dropped out of the BUDS training course. And just last week James Derek Lovelace, a 21-year-old seaman, drowned during a pool exercise in Coronado, California, at the start of the BUDS training.

Captain Jay Hennessey, commanding officer of the Navy Special Warfare Center, is in charge of conducting the selection and training of Navy SEALs. He released a statement Thursday night.

“In the wake of the recent events we have acknowledged opportunities to improve our out-process and recovery procedures for students who disenrolled—specifically improving accountability for sleep-deprived sailors …for 50 years, thousands of young men have voluntarily disenrolled from Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training…but despite a successful track record, any loss of life drives us to ensure we are doing everything possible to make training safe and effective.”

The importance of Navy SEALs has risen in recent times because of their use in covert and high-risk missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2011, a Navy SEAL team raided a house in Pakistan and killed Osama Bin Laden.

Seaman James Derek Lovelace was dressed in a dive mask and camouflage utility uniform during his training exercise. Instructors say the 21-year-old lost consciousness and first-aid efforts at the scene failed to resuscitate him. He was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. Lovelace enlisted in the Navy in November after bagging a degree in mechanical engineering from the Faulkner State College in Alabama. He was posted to the Naval Special Warfare Basic Training Command.

According to the Navy’s website, Lovelace needed to perform the following tasks to pass the boot camp level: a 1,000 yard swim with fins in 20 minutes or less, do 70 push-ups in two minutes, do 10 pull-ups in 2 minutes, do at least 60 curl-ups in two minutes, and run four miles in uniform shoes and pants.

Daniel DelBianco wanted to become a Navy SEAL right from when he was a young boy. The former rugby player quit during “Hell-Week,” ringing a bell to signify that he was quitting. Seven hours later, he took an elevator to the top of a hotel in San Diego and jumped, according to NBC News.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Caplen Weare was two times above the normal drinking limit when he crashed his car. His mother said he was not wearing his seat belt. Julie Weare said in as much as she did not suspect any foul play in her son’s death, she expected the Navy to have been there for her son. She said he should never have been left to his own devices after he dropped out. These deaths raise questions about training safety and the lack of attention provided to men who pull out of training after undergoing grueling mental and physical endurance tests.

[Image via Shutterstock/Oleg Zabielin]