A sailor has died in three out of the last four Navy SEAL training classes, with one drowning days ago during a pool exercise and another committing suicide in April after failing to complete one of the U.S. military’s most demanding training programs.
A third sailor, who had been drinking heavily, died in November after his pickup truck rolled off the side of the road, less than three days after learning he had just barely missed the cut to continue training.
All three men were trying to complete a grueling six-month course that serves as a gateway into the storied community of Navy SEALs. The training includes a seven-day stretch of little sleep, self-induced hypothermia and brutal physical conditioning known as “Hell Week.” It is here the majority of SEAL hopefuls quit, also known as “ringing the bell.”
The rash of deaths raises questions about the safety of trainees and whether the Navy is providing adequate supervision for the approximately 80 percent of trainees who drop out, leaving many of them despondent after years of hope and preparation and months of intense training.