The Washington Post published an article this week pointing out that a sailor has died in three of the last four Navy SEAL training classes and asks if it’s time for the Navy to take more responsibility for the well-being of the approximately 80% trainees who drop out of the notoriously difficult Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training. Many of these men have trained for years for the opportunity to serve as a SEAL and few expect to fail going in.
21-year-old James Derek Lovelace died on May 6th during a pool exercise at the Naval Special Warfare school in Coronado, CA. The preliminary autopsy indicates that he drown. One month earlier, Seaman Daniel DelBianco, 23, jumped 22 floors from the top of a San Diego hotel after washing out during Hell Week. Last November, Petty Officer 2nd Class Caplen “Cap” Weare rolled his truck less than three days after learning he didn’t make the cut for the next stage in SEAL training. His blood alcohol was twice the legal limit.
The BUD/S program is intentionally stressful, designed to weed out aspiring SEALs who don’t have the mental and physical stamina demanded from one of the military’s most demanding jobs. All three men had aimed to become SEALs since childhood.
After his son’s memorial service, Dan’s father Steve DelBianco asked Read Admiral Brian Losey to increase supervision for sailors who’ve been cut from the program. “My family’s interested in the Navy making dramatic changes in their procedures and their priorities to care properly for someone who is dropped or drops on request,” his father said. “Especially in the middle of Hell Week … when they are at their most vulnerable, the Navy has the greatest responsibility to look after them.”
Should the Navy take more responsibility for the talented, capable sailors who don’t make the cut? Should it more closely monitor the safety of men who are still taking part in the often brutal training? Let us know what you think and sound off!