The Navy today confirmed the identity of the sailor who went missing from cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG-70), 12 days after Lt. j.g. Asante Kayin McCalla failed to report for duty on the ship.
McCalla’s family had already spoken out on social media and to local press outlets, identifying him as the sailor the Navy and Coast Guard had spent four days searching for off the coast of San Diego.
McCalla enlisted in the Navy in August 2012 through the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) program at Morehouse College in Atlanta. Upon graduation, he was commissioned an officer in May 2016. The Georgia native was in training for his surface warfare officer qualification, according to his biographical data provided by U.S. 3rd Fleet.
Upon commissioning, McCalla was assigned to Lake Erie. He spent two months in late 2016 as a student at the Surface Warfare Officer School in San Diego before returning to the cruiser.
McCalla achieved the rank of lieutenant junior grade on May 27. During his time in the Navy, McCalla had earned the National Defense Service Medal.
Early in the morning of Aug. 19, the crew of Lake Erie began man-overboard procedures when McCalla could not be found inside the ship. Ultimately, seven Navy ships and aircraft from the Navy, Coast Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol searched more than 16,550 square nautical miles of open water but were unable to locate the officer.
The Navy on Aug. 30 officially notified McCalla’s family that, after 10 days of being missing, McCalla had been declared deceased.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the sailor’s family during this difficult time,” Capt. Christine O’Connell, commanding officer of Lake Erie, said in a Navy statement at the time the search was ended, prior to identifying McCalla publicly.
“Losing a shipmate is devastating and felt by our entire crew. We will continue to support the family in any way we can.”