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The Navy has identified two sailors who were swept off the deck of their submarine and drowned off the coast of Plymouth, England, last week.

The two are Senior Chief Petty Officer Thomas E. Higgins, 45, of Paducah, Ky., and Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael J. Holtz, 30, of Lakewood, Ohio.

Both were crewmembers on the USS Minneapolis-St Paul. According to Navy officials on Monday, Higgins was the “chief of the boat,” or most-senior enlisted sailor.

Higgins, Holtz and two other sailors were knocked overboard by high waves as the submarine was leaving the Devonport Naval Base about 1 p.m. Friday.

According to local news reports and witnesses, winds were gusting at nearly 50 mph and visibility was diminished when the accident occurred.

The two rescued sailors were treated at a Plymouth hospital and remained in Britain to assist in the Navy’s investigation of the accident. The Navy, citing privacy laws, has not identified them.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul, based in Norfolk, Va., had just completed a one-week tour in England, and had been operating under the command of the 6th Fleet-Naval Forces Europe, based in Naples, Italy, since October.


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