U.S. sailors and civilian mariners assigned to the Gaeta, Italy-based USS Mount Whitney are grappling with the deaths of two of their own, discovered within a few days of each other this month.

"The loss of a fellow sailor is a difficult circumstance for any crew to face, whether we are military or civilian," Capt. Owen Honors, commanding officer of the Mount Whitney, said in an e-mailed statement.

"We have taken a moment to pause and reflect on the loss of these men and what they brought to us as members of this crew. We will also continue to provide as much support to the families as possible during the challenging days ahead."

The deaths are unrelated, officials said.

The Mount Whitney’s crew of roughly 300 is a hybrid of U.S. sailors and civilian members of the Military Sealift Command.

On Jan. 8, Italian divers found civilian mariner Raymond Bryant’s body submerged near the ship’s pier, five days after the 43-year-old fell into the frigid waters after returning to the ship with friends and co-workers from an evening in town.

He was last seen by his friends talking on a cell phone on the pier, said Ed Buice, a spokesman with Naval Criminal Investigative Service. His death has been classified as an accidental drowning, Buice said. Neither suicide nor foul play is suspected, he said.

On Jan. 4, the day after Bryant’s disappearance, Navy crewmembers discovered the body of shipmate Petty Officer 1st Class Trevor C. Pashenee in Pashenee’s home in Gaeta.

Pashenee "was found dead in his car in his garage, but the exact circumstances and chain of events prior to his death are still under investigation by Italian authorities and NCIS," Buice said.

An autopsy was performed Jan. 6, Buice said.

U.S. Navy officials did not publicly release any information on Pashenee’s death until Friday, after questions from Stars and Stripes.

Pashenee, 28, was a cryptology technician maintenance sailor, and had been assigned to the ship in November, according to Lt. Brian Badura, a spokesman for U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa. A native of Roseville, Calif., he enlisted in November 2001.

Pashenee, who was single, did not report for work on Jan. 4, prompting the ship’s crew to search for him, Badura said. The search led to his house, where sailors found him in the garage.

The ship’s crew held a small memorial service for Pashenee on Jan. 9 at the ship’s pier in Gaeta, with comments shared by the local chaplain, the ship’s command master chief and the commanding officer, Badura said.

The crew remembered Bryant during a memorial service Jan. 10 while at sea. The service included laying flowers at sea, said Gillian Brigham, a spokeswoman with Sealift Logistics Command Europe.

Bryant "was remembered as a man of faith who had an extreme love for his family, and was an extremely loyal and good friend," Brigham said.

Pashenee’s body was flown to the United States on Jan. 9. Bryant’s body was sent to the States on Wednesday.

The Mount Whitney now is returning to its base in Gaeta after a visit to Marseille, France, to commemorate U.S.-French relations and the 100th anniversary of the Great White Fleet. From December 1907 to February 1909, President Theodore Roosevelt sent 16 battleships — all painted white — on a journey around the world to demonstrate America’s growing military power.

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