USS Marinette Executive Officer Died of Apparent Suicide While Aboard Ship in Cleveland

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The U.S. Navy littoral combat ship, USS Marinette
The U.S. Navy littoral combat ship, USS Marinette (LCS 25), is pier side on the Menominee River prior to its commissioning in Menominee, Michigan on Sept. 16, 2023. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Nicholas Huynh)

The Navy said Tuesday that Cmdr. Jonathan Volkle, the executive officer of the littoral combat ship USS Marinette, was found dead from an apparent suicide aboard the ship on Oct. 27.

Volkle, 44, was found unresponsive and later pronounced deceased, Lt. Cmdr. David Carter told Military.com in an email Tuesday. The Navy never formally announced the death but a publicly posted obituary revealed the officer was found by crew aboard USS Marinette while she was docked in Cleveland.

Carter said that the incident is currently under investigation, but a Navy official confirmed to Military.com that the death is being treated as a suicide.

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USNI News was the first to report the death and the suspicion of suicide.

According to records provided by the Navy, Volkle joined the Navy in 2007 and served on the frigate USS Kauffman as well as the destroyers USS John McCain and USS Fitzgerald. In 2017, he moved to Japan where he held posts in Sasebo and on the mine countermeasure ship USS Patriot.

Volkle reported to the USS Marinette in September 2022, and it was commissioned a year later. The ship was then set to make its way to its homeport of Mayport, Florida, but ended up getting stuck in the Great Lakes due to the St. Lawrence Seaway workers strike.

Volkle's awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, three awards of the Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal and two awards of the Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

The Pentagon recently released its military-wide suicide data that showed that, despite a slight dip in the overall suicide figures across the defense department, the Navy still struggled to control the issue.

Last year, the service saw the highest total number of suicides -- 71 -- since 2019, when it had a record 74 suicides, the highest number in a decade.

According to the obituary, Volkle is survived by his wife Kaori Kato Volkle; his sons, Bruno and Nino; and his parents, Skip Volkle and Louise Volkle.

Carter said that Littoral Combat Ship Squadron 2 is providing chaplain and mental health support to the ship's crew. Cmdr. Janet Brooms will be assigned as executive officer, he added.

Veterans and service members experiencing a mental health emergency can call the Veteran Crisis Line, 988 and press 1. Help also is available by text, 838255, and via chat at VeteransCrisisLine.net.

-- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at konstantin.toropin@military.com. Follow him on X at @ktoropin.

Related: Overall Military Suicide Rate Dropped, But Active-Duty Deaths Increased Slightly, Pentagon Reports

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