Navy, DoD Identify Two Sailors Who Died Underway in the Past Week

March 25, 2024 5:21 PM - Updated: March 26, 2024 7:19 AM

Two Navy sailors who were assigned to deployed warships died over the past week – one in the Red Sea and one in the Indian Ocean.

Aviation Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Oriola Michael Aregbesola, assigned to USS Mason (DDG-87) went missing on March 20 with search and rescue efforts conducted but have since been called off, according to a March 22 Central Command release.

Mason is operating in the Red Sea as part of Operation Prosperity Guardian.

It took Central Command two days to issue a release about the missing sailor. The Department of Defense identified Aregbesola in a March 23 release. Aregbesola, 34, of Miramar, Fla., died in a “non-combat related incident,” according to the DOD statement.

Additional details about the incident were not included in the release. Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Bertucci, a spokesman for the Navy, said Aregbesola’s death is under investigation and there are no further details available.

The Navy is also investigating the death of Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class Elijah Riddle, a sailor assigned to USS Halsey (DDG-97).

Riddle was found unresponsive in his berthing while the ship was underway in the Indian Ocean. Despite efforts to revive Riddle, he was declared dead on March 16. The Navy announced his death four days later in a release.

Bertucci also did not have additional details about Riddle’s death, as of Monday.

The Navy deployed a Special Psychiatric Rapid Intervention Team to the ship and is also offering grief and counseling services to the crew.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the sailor’s family, friends, and coworkers during this time,” the Navy said in the release.

Mason deployed on Oct. 13 as part of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, which has been in the Middle East as part of the ongoing efforts to respond to Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea. The destroyer has been involved in several interdictions with Houthi weapons, according to USNI News’ timeline of Red Sea activity.

Halsey is operating in the Indian Ocean as part of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group. USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) deployed Jan. 11 and chopped into U.S. 7th Fleet about 10 days later.

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio is a reporter with USNI News. She has a master’s degree in science journalism and has covered local courts, crime, health, military affairs and the Naval Academy.
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