A sailor from Gulfport was found dead in his berthing compartment aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise in the Middle East on Friday morning, according to a ship spokeswoman.
Master Chief Petty Officer Richard J. Kessler, 47, was found dead in his compartment at 7 a.m. local time, according to Lt. Com. Sarah Self-Kyler.
The cause of death is under investigation, said Navy Lt. Greg Raelson.
"The Navy is deeply saddened by the loss of one of our shipmates," Raelson said. "Our deepest thoughts and condolences go out to his family during this difficult time."
Kessler was the leading chief petty officer for the supply department and oversaw about 500 sailors, according to Self-Kyler.
He was in charge of making sure the Enterprise was fully stocked with food and supplies, said Self-Kyler.
"He was well known on the ship and very well liked by the sailors who reported to him and everyone else," she said.
Despite the death, morale on the ship is strong, said Self-Kyler.
"We are carrying on the way he would have wanted us to," she said.
Kessler joined the Navy in 1984 and has been on the Enterprise since April 2011.
The Enterprise is supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. About 4,800 sailors and Marines are aboard the Enterprise.
Published in TBO.com from June 10 to July 10, 2012