The former executive officer of the Littoral Combat Ship USS Marinette (LCS-25) died late last month while the ship was moored in Cleveland, USNI News has learned.
According to an obituary, Cmdr. Jonathan Michael Volkle, 44, died aboard the ship on Oct. 27.
“[Volke] was found unresponsive and later pronounced deceased,” reads a Tuesday statement from U.S. Surface Force Atlantic.
“Our thoughts go out to the Volkle’s family during this incredibly difficult period, and we would ask their privacy be respected. Littoral Combat Ship Squadron (LCSRON) 2 is providing chaplain and mental health support to the ship’s crew. Cmdr. Janet Brooms will be assigned as executive officer.”
According to his Navy biography, Volkle enlisted in early 2007 and later commissioned in May via officer candidate school. A career surface warfare officer, he served aboard guided-missile frigate USS Kauffman (FFG-59), guided missile destroyers USS John McCain (DDG-56) and USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) and commanded the Avenger-class mine countermeasure ship USS Patriot (MCM-7).
Ashore, he served at Naval Surface Force Pacific, Japan-based Destroyer Squadron 15 and Littoral Combat Squadron 2.
His decorations included the Meritorious Service Medal, three awards of the Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal and two awards of the Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal.
An investigation into the death is ongoing, but two defense officials confirmed to USNI News that an initial report showed Volkle died by suicide. In 2022, the service saw its highest increase in death by suicide since 2019, USNI News reported last month.
Marinette, one of the last planned Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ships, was commissioned on Sept. 17 in Menominee, Mich.
En route to the ship’s homeport at Naval Station Mayport, Fla., Marinette was waylaid in Cleveland because of a Canadian workers strike that blocked the St. Lawrence Seaway, USNI News reported.
While the ship was stuck in Lake Erie, it got underway periodically from its Cleveland pier, a Navy spokesperson told USNI News.
Suicide Prevention Resources
The Navy Suicide Prevention Handbook is a guide designed to be a reference for policy requirements, program guidance, and educational tools for commands. The handbook is organized to support fundamental command Suicide Prevention Program efforts in Training, Intervention, Response, and Reporting.
The 1 Small ACT Toolkit helps sailors foster a command climate that supports psychological health. The toolkit includes suggestions for assisting sailors in staying mission ready, recognizing warning signs of increased suicide risk in oneself or others, and taking action to promote safety.