The U.S. Navy sailor reported overboard from the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln in the Arabian Sea on Wednesday is said by Bryan native Lexi Posey, 22, to be her fiance Slayton Saldana, 24, she told The Bryan Times on Thursday.
The U.S. Navy announced it had suspended the search for the missing sailor, who was assigned to a Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 5, Friday at 5:45 p.m. when the sailor's status was still listed as "duty whereabouts unknown."
A Naval information officer indicated the name would be officially released on Sunday. To this point, the Navy has declined to confirm or deny his or her identify officially, citing Naval policy.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and shipmates of our lost Sailor,” said Vice Adm. Jim Malloy, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet, and Combined Maritime Forces.
Saldana is a San Antonio, Texas native.
“I want the world to know that I love him and I still believe he is out there alive and kicking ass out there in the water,” said Posey of AT2 Saldana on Thursday prior to the seach's suspension. “...I still believe he’s alive.”
Posey, who continues to petition news organizations around the world to help keep the search via social media, referred to Saldana as "the love of her life."
Two U.S. ships, including the Abraham Lincoln and a Spanish frigate, over three days, conducted a search-and-rescue operation.
The U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln had been routed to the Arabian Sea in recent weeks in what U.S. officials say is a deterrence amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
“During this tragic time, I want to thank the Spanish Álvaro de Bazán-class frigate Méndez Núñez for their assistance in the search operations, and all the Sailors involved in the search for their valiant efforts to find our shipmate," said Malloy.
Some of the Saldana’s belongings were said by Posey to have been found on the side of a catwalk on 5:45 a.m. Wednesday. According to Posey, the water was about 80F and has been calm Thursday afternoon. She also indicated he is believed to have been wearing his float coat.
A Navy public affairs officer could offer no information Thursday on how far from the coast the ship was when the sailor went missing. A sailor is declared lost at sea after 10 days.
Posey was the subject of 2017 profile story focused on two former Bryan High classmates unexpectedly meeting up at sea with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Posey graduated from Bryan High in 2015.