Life on the high seas can be difficult, full of obstacles and dangers both on-board and below the water.
For the crew of USS Shiloh, this thought became a terrifying reality when one of their own vanished on deck and the crew encountered the nightmare of a man overboard. However, no one could have guessed how the story would play out hundreds of miles from dry land.
Growing up in Florida, Peter Mims was always surrounded by water and had an affinity for the great open ocean. He came from a loving family who supported anything he wanted to do with his life.
Shortly after high school, when Peter was about 19 years old, he decided to continue his education through college wasn’t right for him and he wasn’t ready to jump into the career force. So in 2014 he decided a life at sea was right for him and he enlisted in the U.S. Navy…
Just a few months later, he received a station on the USS Shiloh, a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser named in remembrance of the Battle of Shiloh in the American Civil War. And after just one year on board, Mims was advanced to petty officer third class.
During his time on the USS Shiloh, the young sailor fought hard to work his way up in the ranks. He earned the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, a Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon and a Sea Service Ribbon. However, there was more to the young sailor from Interlachen, FL than what first meets the eye…
In Spring 2017, Mims was working on board USS Shiloh as a Gas Turbine System Technician Mechanical (GSM), someone who operates, repairs and performs organizational and intermediate maintenance on mechanical components of gas turbine engines. He had just officially been frocked to a petty officer third class that May and things seem good.
Missing In Action
Then on the evening of June 8, 2017, something went terribly wrong. Around 9:30 pm, other sailors discovered Peter Mims was not working at his post. He was quickly reported as missing and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser went into panic mode, causing a thorough search both on and off the ship…
Ranking officers on board had seen enough accidents to know that this was likely a case of a sailor gone overboard. Yet at the time of Mims’ disappearance, Shiloh was operating 180 miles east of Okinawa and it was unclear where he could have fallen into the ocean. Not to mention, how far he could have drifted if he survived.
Soon, the U.S. Navy teamed up with Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force and Japanese Coast Guard to cover the roughly 5,500 possible square miles for the missing sailor. They would spend over 50 long hours scanning the great abyss of ocean…
According to the Navy’s 7th Fleet, they were joined in the search by helicopters, aircrafts and five ships from the United States, as well as three Japanese ships. They even enlisted the help of several destroyers and the carrier Ronald Reagan.
Lost At Sea
It was truly all hands on deck to find the lost sailor but, after all those long hours searching the open water, they came up with nothing. Three long days after Petty Officer 3rd Class Peter Mims disappeared in the icy Philippine Sea, the search was suspended on June 11th…
The Navy then released the sailor’s name to honor him, after they declared Mims officially lost at sea. The 23-year-old’s family and loved ones back home were devastated, as were all of his fellow sailors on board the USS Shiloh and all over the world.
It was a terrible tragedy for the Navy but the one question on everyone’s mind was how a skilled sailor could have met such a demise? Just a few days after he was declared dead, everyone on board would learn the shocking truth about the Gas Turbine Systems Technician…
According to Navy officials when someone goes missing on board, the ship’s captain will make the crew take attendance and search the ship in its entirety. The search for Peter Mims was no different but perhaps they didn’t take into account that a mechanic like himself would have known all the ins and outs of the 567 feet long and 55 feet wide ship’s engineering spaces.
After a week had gone by, everyone on the USS Shiloh had begun to accept that Mims had jumped ship. It made some sense, seeing as he was known to be very unhappy in the Navy and told people he couldn’t wait to get out. However, the 23-year-old officer turned out to be a man with a plan…
One week after he was declared dead, Petty Officer 3rd Class Peter Mims was found by fellow soldiers hiding in a tight space on Shiloh’s engineering deck. He was thought to be dead and thousands of people had just spent days searching for him. He had no choice but to turn himself into his shipmates and face his fate.
Given the bizarre circumstances of the situation, Mims was quickly transferred to the USS Reagan for medical evaluation and an investigation was soon underway. “We are thankful to have found our missing shipmate and appreciate all the hard work of our Sailors and Japanese partners in searching for him,” Rear Adm. Charles Williams, commander, Carrier Strike Group 5 and Task Force 70, said in the statement.
“I am relieved that this Sailor’s family will not be joining the ranks of Gold Star Families that have sacrificed so much for our country,” Williams continued. Mims’ family was thrilled to hear the good news as well but were sadly subjected to hate mail from people angry about Mims’ costly and careless prank.
Mims’ sister Amy James said, “He’s a very strong person, puts a smile on your face, helps anybody needing help,” adding, “He’s a jokester.” And sister Nicky said of her brother: “He always faces his problems…He never runs away from them.” She also insisted that the full story hasn’t come out yet…
“I do feel like the Navy has explaining to do because the event of him going MIA had caused so much distress and sadness,” Mim’s ex-wife told ABC news. She added that he was not treated well due by the Navy to his small stature and he “couldn’t wait to get out,” even though he supposedly had just a few months of duty left.
At this point, the 23-year-old Floridian’s place in the Navy remains uncertain and the investigation will likely last well through the summer. Although the Navy was relieved to find their sailor alive, the manpower and resources wasted on him undoubtedly broke the Uniform Code of Military Justice and he could be punished, along with any other sailor found to conspire on the plan. However, they will take into consideration the possibility of personal problems or mental health issues.”Normal, rational people generally don’t just go hide on a ship,” said military lawyer Joseph Jordan, “Something’s got to be going on.” Indeed, after being transferred for medical evaluation, Mims jumped overboard to avoid punishment for the previous incident, prompting further investigation.