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U.S. Navy orders investigation of SEALs training after death of sailor

U.S. Navy SEALs jump from a CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter during training near Fort Pickett, Va., in September 2011. File Photo by Meranda Keller/Navy/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/22d85984801e3716c23d2952ff420562/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
U.S. Navy SEALs jump from a CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter during training near Fort Pickett, Va., in September 2011. File Photo by Meranda Keller/Navy/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 9 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy has ordered an independent investigation into its SEALs selection course after the death of a sailor earlier this year, according to reports.

Admiral William Lescher, the outgoing Vice Chief of Naval Operations, ordered the investigation to be conducted by a rear admiral from outside of the SEALs, sources told The New York Times and CNN.

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A letter from Lescher obtained by the Times ordered investigators to scrutinize safety measures, the qualifications of instructors and medical personal and drug testing policies for SEAL candidates at the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEALs course.

The 30-day review comes after the death of 24-year-old Kyle Mullen, a former college athlete, in February.

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The Navy said that Mullen was not actively training at the time of his death during the so-called Hell Week and his death was later determined to have been caused by bacterial pneumonia. Investigators found syringes and performance-enhancing drugs among his possessions after his death.

"We extend our deepest sympathies to Seaman Mullen's family for their loss," Rear Adm. H.W. Howard III, commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, said in February.

"We are extending every form of support we can to the Mullen family and Kyle's BUD/S classmates."

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Three other sailors who participated in Hell Week with Mullen were hospitalized the day he died, one of whom had to be intubated.

The Navy SEALS website calls Hell Week "the defining event" of training. It consists of brutally difficult operations in cold, wet environments with candidates getting fewer than four hours of sleep.

Only around a quarter of trainees make it through the week, producing around 250 new SEALS each year. Less than 10% of Mullen's class completed training this year with 189 having quit or been injured by the time of his death.

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