INTERLACHEN — A US Navy sailor from Central Florida who vanished without a trace from the USS Shiloh as the ship cruised across Southeast Asia in June was found hiding on board almost a week after he was reported missing, according to a new report.
With his comrades fearing he was lost at sea, Mechanic Third Class Peter Mims, 23, turned up six days later unharmed but covered with his own feces.
In a fit of paranoia, the young seaman had retreated to the engine room because he thought he was being followed and slowly poisoned.
And new information published this week revealed Putnam County product Mims showed signs of delusional paranoia that were ignored by his superiors. Prior to his disappearance, the Interlachen sailor requested mental health assistance after a series of marital and financial setbacks.
When ship officials discovered he was missing, American and Japanese forces combed 5,500 square-miles of sea for over 50 hours, finally ending their search June 11.
The report released yesterday showed the US Navy failed to adequately respond to Mims’ mental health issues as other sailors aboard the Shiloh, who were sleeping on average three hours a night, were suffering from exhaustion and low morale.
Mims enlisted in 2014 and soon showed signs of distress. In 2016, he was found drunk and passed out on a bench near a US military base in Yokosuka, Japan. He was then banned from drinking alcohol.
That year, he kept his divorce secret from superiors, and ended up pocketing $7,000 in excess housing funds from the Navy. He once tried to get discharged by telling the Navy his mother was dying of cancer. She wasn’t.
“Mims was known for outlandish claims, such as he could stop running … engines by pulsating electricity with his body, that he could shoot fireballs out of his hands, that he had a friend who had a motorcycle with the same engine as the ship, that he had been to space, and that before the Navy he was going to work for NASA because he had reached the pinnacle of how strong a human could be,” the report reads.
Mims later told investigators he was being followed around the guided-missile cruiser and other sailors were trying to poison him.
Mims failed to report for watch duty June 8. Several fellow sailors told superiors they thought he jumped overboard, though the commanding officer believed Mims he was still alive and aboard the ship.
A day after the search ended, a sailor reported running into Sims in the lounge area, where he filled a 34-gallon plastic bag with water. Despite reporting the sighting to superiors, the sailor’s claims were dismissed.
Eventually, the crew decided to search the lower levels of the ship, yet they avoided the area where Mims was hiding in due to a foul odor. Again, they gave up.
“Based on the small size of the space and the unknown state of GSM3 Mims’ state of mind, fearing the safety of their personnel, they did not complete the catacomb search, which requires crawling through a series of small compartments,” the report revealed.
Finally, equipped with batons and flexicuffs, the crew eventually found Mims sleeping in the engine room. \
On June 16, while the ship docked in Singapore, Mims was arrested and transferred to another ship. He told investigators that he went into hiding because “he was concerned for his own safety.”
‘As evidence of what GSM3 Mims believed to be a threat to his safety, he recommended the (crew) surveys be looked at,’ the report summarizes. “Mims seemed paranoid and appeared to be holding back some information.”