U.S. Navy disciplines five in Aberdeen Proving Ground drownings

ABERDEEN, Md., Aug. 15 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy announced it has disciplined five sailors after an investigation into the deaths of two divers at the Aberdeen, Md., Proving Ground.

The five are the first to be punished in the deaths in February of Diver 1st Class James Reyher and Diver 2nd Class Ryan Harris of the Navy's elite Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2, based in Virginia Beach, Va., at Aberdeen's Underwater Explosive Test Facility, known as the Super Pond.


Witnesses said the men drowned after their underwater breathing units failed and a line tethering them to their boat became tangled.

The Super Pond is 150-foot deep facility on the bank of the Bush River in Harford County, Md., used to test missiles, torpedoes and sonar. Navy divers use it to practice salvage missions, The Baltimore Sun said.

The five accused sailors were not identified, but officials confirmed that Chief Warrant Officer 3rd class Mark Smith and Dive Senior chief James Burger, who were involved in an investigative hearing in June and face a possible military trial, are among them.

The Navy said it had taken administrative or disciplinary action against the five. If they choose not to accept the disciplinary action, their commander could pursue a court-martial, a Navy spokesman said.


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