The U.S. Navy has identified a sailor lost overboard on August 1 while on operations in the Baltic Sea. Officials said that Seaman Recruit David (“Dee”) L. Spearman, 19, was the sailor lost while serving on the USS Arleigh Burke, a guided-missile destroyer.
Spearman was lost as the ship was operating near Helsinki, Finland. He was a native of North Carolina and his family was notified on Wednesday that he was the sailor who was reported missing on Monday. Relatives of the lost sailor told reporters that he was part of a long line of Navy men in his family.
Spearman graduated from Navy basic training in January before entering training at the Surface Warfare Engineering School Command in Great Lakes, Illinois. He reported for duty aboard the USS Arleigh Burke in April.
The USS Arleigh Burke arrived at port in Riga, Latvia on July 9 where the ship provided tours to senior members of the Latvian government. The ship was deployed to the Baltic region in June to work with NATO allies and other partner nations after operations in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea with the Spanish and French navies.
The crew’s mission in the Baltic region involves strengthening diplomatic relations between NATO allies near the area where Russia has been conducting an invasion of neighboring Ukraine since February.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate approved a resolution approving the requests made by Baltic region nations Finland and Sweden to join the NATO alliance. Expanding the reach of the NATO alliance further into Northern Europe will serve as a blow against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s influence in the region.
A search and rescue mission for the young sailor commenced on Monday and was called off late Tuesday. The United States Fleet Forces Command issued a statement on Thursday confirming Spearman’s identity as the sailor lost overboard.
USS Arleigh Burke Commanding Officer Cmdr. Pete Flynn issued a statement of thanks to the navies of Sweden and Germany who assisted his crew and U.S. Air Force personnel in making “extensive efforts to search for our shipmate.”
Flynn described Spearman as a bright young man who “made an oversized positive impact on Arleigh Burke.” He offered his family and friends the entire crew’s condolences and said every member’s thoughts and prayers are with them.