Navy salvage workers who boarded the USS Bonefish as the abandoned submarine drifted in the Atlantic on Wednesday found the bodies of the three men missing after explosions and fire rocked the ship, Navy officials said.
A Navy salvage crew boarded the submarine Tuesday but had to pump out toxic gases swirling through the hull before they could enter the sub, which had been adrift since Sunday.The dead were identified as Lt. Ray Everts Jr., 30, of Naoma, W.Va.; Petty Officer 1st Class Robert W. Bordelon Jr., 39, of Willis, Texas; and Petty Officer 3rd Class Marshall T. Lindgren, 21, of Pisgah Forest, N.C.
Chief Petty Officer Terry D. Borton, a spokesman at Atlantic Fleet headquarters here, said two of the bodies were found at their stations in the control room of the ship and a third was found in an administrative compartment.
The rest of the 92-man crew escaped serious injury when they abandoned the 219-foot, 30-year-old vessel, which was drifting alongside two salvage ships 160 miles east of Port Canaveral, Fla.
The Navy anticipates towing the vessel to its homeport of Charleston, S.C., said Chief Petty Officer Joseph C. Mowery, another fleet spokesman. The salvageships USS Petrel and USS Hoist are assessing the safety and manner of towing the ship back to port, he said.
The causes of death would not be known until a full medical report was done, Borton said. The salvage crew entered the vessel shortly after midnight to test for toxic gases left by the fire in the diesel-electric sub's forward compartment.
Lt. Michael Langston, chaplain at the Asheville Naval Reserve Center in Asheville, N.C., said he was told to notify Lindgren's mother and brother in nearby Pisgah Forest. "She's pretty distraught," he said of Mrs. Lindgren.
Everts' sister, Cynthia Williams, said the Navy had sent someone to their house Wednesday morning to announce that Everts' body had been found.
Adm. Carlisle A.H. Trost, chief of naval operations, said Tuesday in Washington that the three men were on watch in the sub's control room and may have died at their posts as they made sure everyone got clear.