Home » Military Personnel » Search for Missing USS Stethem Sailor Called Off After 79-Hour Search By US, Japan, China

Search for Missing USS Stethem Sailor Called Off After 79-Hour Search By US, Japan, China

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Stethem (DDG 63), left, and USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) participate in a photo exercise during Exercise Foal Eagle on March 22, 2017. US Navy photo.

The Navy suspended its search for a missile sailor assigned to guided-missile destroyer USS Stethe­m (DDG-63) at 4 p.m. Japan Standard Time (3 a.m. EST) on Aug. 4, after more than three days of continuous search with U.S., Japanese and Chinese ships and aircraft.

The sailor was reported missing and assumed overboard Aug. 1 around 9 a.m. local time while Stethem was conducting routine operations about 140 miles west of Subic Bay in the Philippines, in the South China Sea. Multiple searches were conducted inside the destroyer, but the crew was unable to find the missing sailor.

The destroyer was assisted by Military Sealift Command ships USNS Vice Adm. K.R. Wheeler (T-AG-5001) and USNS Amelia Earhart (T-AKE-6); Japan Maritime Self Defense Force ships JS Izumo and JS Sazanami; and two People’s Liberation Army Navy frigates, along with U.S. Navy P-3s and Japanese helicopters searching from the air. In total, the ships and aircraft from the three countries spent 79 hours searching about 10,000 square miles. The decision to call off the search was made around 3 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time today.

“After an extensive search, with help from the JMSDF and PLA(N), we were unable to locate our Sailor,” Capt. Jeffrey Bennett, commander of Destroyer Squadron 15, said in a Navy news release.
“I offer my deepest condolences to the Sailor’s family, friends, and the Stethem Steelworkers.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with our lost shipmate, their family, and the officers and crew of USS Stethem,” Rear Adm. Charles Williams, commander of Task Force 70, said in the news release.
“I appreciate greatly the dedication and professionalism shown by all who participated in the search efforts.”

The Navy highlighted PLAN’s assistance in the search effort, noting it was “demonstrating the common bond shared by all mariners to render assistance at sea.” Stethem conducted Freedom of Navigation Operations in the South China Sea last month, sailing within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island in the Paracel Island chain, which is claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam.

  • Aj jordan

    How does this keep happening?! Somebody’s who’s been aboard a vessel please fill me in…… And fair winds sailor…… o7

    • magic3400

      ??? How do you know what happened? It could have been a suicide…I hope it wasn’t, but no one knows.

      • Aj jordan

        Not saying I know what happened…. In fact I’m trying to find out how these good men and women keep falling off these warships…… It happens so frequently it’s mind-boggling.

        • Shane Hodges

          It is possible if the nets were lowered or someone had been working on the guard rails. I say this because I was on an FFG when myself and another sailor were ditching gash off the quarter deck, when we came from white lighting below decks into red and then onto the flight deck without proper preparation we could only see the markings on the flightdeck as they are white, we had our arms outstreched searching for the netting beliving that it would be in the up position, but they had been left down following flying stations. The first I knew they had been left down was when my mate went over the side but into the netting luckily for him, I nearly went over the side laughing so much. So if he walked outside without getting himself sorted at night(if it happened at night) added to this some very bad luck, it could very much happen. A warship is a dangerous place.

        • magic3400

          maybe you should spend some time reading about the subject FIRST, then comment…

  • incredulous1

    CHINA??? PLAN? WTF? Good thing they didn’t recover him or he would have become a pawn in their game. The PLAN couldn’t possibly give a rip about our sailor and this was political about maintaining a presence since the story went world-wide – as it helps them with their claim to the territory. I can only imagine the communication between us and the PLAN over our missing sailor. God help him in any case.