Navy calls off search for USS Shiloh sailor
By ERIK SLAVIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 13, 2009
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The search for a USS Shiloh sailor who fell overboard Wednesday in waters near Tokyo Harbor has ended without success, Navy officials said Saturday.
U.S. Navy and Japanese Coast Guard ships and helicopters stopped actively looking for Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Geathers on Friday evening, after 2½ days of a search effort that spanned much of Tokyo Bay.
The Shiloh, a Ticonderoga class guided-missile cruiser with about 360 servicemembers aboard, returned to Yokosuka Naval Base on Friday night, 7th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Jeff Davis said Saturday.
"After a thorough review of search and rescue data collected during this period, Navy officials determined that every reasonable effort had been expended, and expectations for recovery no longer existed," a 7th Fleet news release said.
Geathers’ duty status is now listed officially as "whereabouts unknown," Davis said.
While no foul play is suspected, the incident is now under investigation, Davis added.
Geathers, 30, an electrician’s mate, was rigging shore power cables when he fell from the cruiser’s fantail at about 1 p.m., about three miles south of Tokyo Bay’s Buoy One, officials said.
It is unknown whether Geathers was wearing a flotation device at the time, 7th Fleet officials said.
Since Geathers’ disappearance Wednesday, dozens of friends, USS Shiloh family members and well-wishers have posted messages of support to the 7th Fleet’s Facebook page.
On Saturday, some held out hopes that Geathers might still be alive, though most offered somber prayers.