Peter Mims poses for a photo after being frocked to the rank of petty officer third class during a ceremony aboard the USS Shiloh May 25. (COURTESY PHOTO)
The Navy and the ex-wife of a sailor are at a loss to explain why he allegedly hid out in the engine room of the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser Shiloh and triggered a massive man overboard search in the Pacific.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Peter Mims, 23, of Interlachen, Fla., was promoted in May and previously had an unblemished record. He enlisted in the Navy in February 2014 and reported to the Shiloh in August of that year.
Mims was being held Friday in pretrial confinement in the brig at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, pending a possible court-martial.
Earlier this week, his former wife, Mikey Marie Mims, who was married to Mims from August 2014 to October 2016, gave the following statement to ABC News.
“My ex-husband wouldn’t hide in the engine room or fake his own death,” she said. “I do feel like the Navy has explaining to do because the event of him going MIA had caused so much distress and sadness,” she added, using the acronym for missing in action.
Mims said she could not explain his motive for allegedly hiding out for a week, according to ABC News.
“I know that Peter wouldn’t hide in an engine room for no reason,” she told the network. “He’s a bright young man.”
The Navy is still trying to determine why Mims went missing.
Pacific Fleet spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Matt Knight said in an email, “We do not know all the details and motivations behind this sailor’s week-long disappearance. This matter remains under investigation, but early indications are that he had taken steps to avoid being found by other sailors, who were actively attempting to locate him.”
On June 8, Mims, who was rated as a Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Mechanical) 3rd Class and had earned the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, was reported missing and presumed overboard as the Shiloh conducted routine operations about 180 miles off the coast of Okinawa, Japan.
Mims’ disappearance led to a massive 50-hour search across 5,500 square miles of the Philippine Sea by U.S. Navy and Japan Self-Defense Forces ships.
Helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft from the carrier Ronald Reagan, a P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft, the destroyers John S. McCain and McCampbell, and the Reagan itself assisted the 567-foot Shiloh in the search.
On June 11, the search was called off and Mims was presumed dead. “The decision to suspend the search was not arrived at lightly,” Rear Adm. Charles Williams, commander of Carrier Strike Group 5 and Task Force 70, said in a statement at the time. “Our thoughts are with our lost shipmate, his family, and the officers and crew of USS Shiloh.”
However, sailors on the Shiloh continued to search the ship. It is Navy protocol to search all ship’s spaces when a man overboard is declared, and it was not immediately clear how Mims eluded discovery.
A week after his disappearance, Mims allegedly emerged from an engineering space on the Shiloh.
Williams said in a statement at the time: “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. 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.”
Mims was taken aboard the Reagan for medical evaluation and interviews with investigators before being transferred to the brig at Miramar.
In his email statement, Knight, the Pacific Fleet spokesman, said the investigation of Mims’ disappearance is expected to conclude by late summer.
— Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.
© Copyright 2017
. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.