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Captain of USS Philippine Sea killed in house fire

Capt. Wesley Smith dies Saturday night at Naval Hospital Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The commanding officer of the USS Philippine Sea died after he was found unresponsive Saturday night in a fire in his NAS Jacksonville home, according to the Navy Region Southeast public affairs office.

The NAS Jacksonville Fire Department responded to a fire at Capt. Wesley Smith's home about 8 p.m. Smith was found in the home and taken to Naval Hospital Jacksonville, where he died. The cause of death has not been determined.

Smith leaves behind a wife and two children.

Randy Wyse, president of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters, said Jacksonville Fire-Rescue assists the NAS Jax Fire Department with the fire in the attic of the home, but it's not clear where the fire started.

Officials said no one else was in the home when the fire started.

"There was a dog involved that rendered some aid that's about all we know what happened," Wyse said.

The guided-missile cruiser Philippine Sea is pierside in her homeport at Naval Station Mayport.

"We offer our sincere condolences to Capt. Smith's wife and children, his family and the entire USS Philippine Sea crew and family. They are in our thoughts and prayers as we deal with this tragic loss. Capt. Smith served the Navy and our nation honorably and with great distinction. We honor his outstanding contributions to our Navy and this nation," said Rear Adm. Brian Luther, commander of Carrier Strike Group Two.

Smith, 50, a surface warfare officer, assumed command of Philippine Sea in October 2013. He is from Virginia and entered the U.S. Navy in March 1990. He previously commanded guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG 68).

Smith is survived by his wife and two children.

Plans for a memorial service and funeral arrangements are ongoing.

The ship's executive officer, Cmdr. Nathan Rowan, has temporarily assumed command. 

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