Navy SEAL instructor temporarily reassigned following sailor’s death

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James Derek Lovelace (Tribune Media)

(CNN) — A training instructor of Navy SEALs has been temporarily reassigned following the death of a sailor in May 2016, a Navy spokesman confirmed to CNN.

“I can confirm that an instructor was assigned to duties not related to training,” Naval Special Warfare Center spokesman Lt. Trevor Davids told CNN.

Seaman James Lovelace died May 6 after he had difficulty in a swimming pool while participating in a rigorous training program known as Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) at a base in Coronado, California.

He was pulled out of the water and later died. The Washington Post, which first reported the reassignment, said a preliminary autopsy showed Lovelace died of drowning.

The instructor has not been identified. No reason for the reassignment was given, nor is it clear whether the instructor is still involved with SEAL units.

The Washington Post first reported the instructor’s reassignment.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is investigating the circumstances around Lovelace’s death.

“We are fully cooperating with the NCIS investigation, and the ongoing Navy safety investigation into this training fatality. It would be premature to discuss any details until those investigations are complete‎,” Davids said.

This is the third death of someone involved or who previously had trained with the BUD/S program.

“The Naval Special Warfare Community mourns the loss of all three of these Sailors” Capt. Jay Hennessey, commanding officer of the Naval Special Warfare Center, said in a statement. “For 50 years, thousands of young men have voluntarily disenrolled from Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training. Our safety precautions for those who dropped from training have been effective for 50 years of BUD/S classes.

“Despite a successful track record, any loss of life drives us to ensure we are doing everything possible to make training safe and effective. In the wake of the recent suicide we have acknowledged opportunities to improve out-process and recovery procedures for students who disenrolled – specifically improving accountability for sleep-deprived Sailors. Although extremely rare, any training death is subjected to an external NCIS and internal command and safety investigations. The results of these inquires inform training policies and procedures.”

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