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U.S. Navy Reports a Death Aboard the Cruiser USS Leyte Gulf

USS Leyte Gulf
USS Leyte Gulf departs Norfolk to join the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group, August 8 (USN)

Published Aug 21, 2022 7:54 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Navy has confirmed the death of a sailor aboard the Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Leyte Gulf, which just deployed with the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group earlier this month. 

The service identified the deceased as Sonar Technician (Surface) 3rd Class Nicholas Woods, 27. Woods passed away aboard the ship at sea on Thursday; no further details were provided, and the official cause of death is still pending. 

Woods joined the Navy in 2020 and underwent training in surface warfare at Great Lakes and in San Diego. He reported aboard Leyte Gulf in August 2021. 

"The loss of a friend or loved one is always tragic, and even more so when they are young, dedicated to service, and sailing into harm's way. Sonar Technician Surface 3rd Class Nicholas Woods was one of those young people,” said Capt. Michael Weeldreyer, commanding officer of USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55). “My deepest condolences and prayers are with his family and friends."

Chaplains and other counselors from across the carrier strike group are providing extra support to the Leyte Gulf's crew, according to the service.

On this deployment with USS George H.W. Bush, USS Leyte Gulf is the air and missile defense command ship. “The crew is excited to work with our allies in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations and build trust in the region while enhancing security. I cannot state it more clearly: America’s Battle Cruiser is ready to go," said Capt. Weeldreyer in a statement. 

USS Leyte Gulf is a Ticonderoga-class cruiser commissioned in 1987 and modernized in 2007. Like most of the 22 active vessels in the class, she is past her design lifespan, and the Navy has been trying to decommission her since at least 2019. Under the service's current proposal, Leyte Gulf would be one of three decommissionned in 2024, and all the other "Ticos" would phase out of service by 2027, saving the Navy the increasing cost of maintaining these aging vessels. The plan is controversial in Congress: several prominent senators and representatives object to the loss of the Ticonderogas' capabilities when there is no quick replacement in sight.