WASHINGTON: The commander of US naval forces in the Middle East, Vice Admiral Scott Stearney, was found dead in his residence in Bahrain on Saturday, the US Navy announced.
“It’s my sad duty to inform you that Vice Adm. Scott Stearney, our commander of US Naval Forces Central Command/US 5th fleet, was found deceased in his residence,” Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson told journalists in Washington on Sunday. “At this time no foul play is suspected.”
Other US defence officials told journalists that they were treating the case as an “apparent suicide”.
The 5th fleet covers the entire greater Middle East region, from the shores of Pakistan to the Suez Canal. Its areas of responsibility include the Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, the Indian Ocean, Strait of Hormuz and the Suez Canal.
Rear Admiral Paul Schlise, the deputy commander of the 5th fleet, has assumed command and “is maintaining continuity in our responsibilities and posture in the US 5th fleet,” Admiral Richardson said.
“This is devastating news for the Stearney family, for the team at 5th fleet, and for the entire US navy,” he added.
“Scott Stearney was a decorated naval warrior. He was a devoted husband and father, and he was a good friend to all.”
The US navy said in a statement that their Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Bahraini ministry of interior were investigating Admiral Stearney’s death.
Admiral Stearney, a native of Chicago, joined the US navy in 1982 after graduating from the University of Notre Dame. He became an aviator in 1984 and flew the FA-18 Hornet in several fighter squadrons and logged more than 4,500 “mishap free” hours of flight.
Previously the director of operations for US Central Command, Stearney became commander of the 5th fleet in May, relieving Vice Admiral John C. Aquilino.
Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2018