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Navy Identifies Missing USS Stethem Sailor as Lt. Steven D. Hopkins  

Undated photo of Lt. Steven D. Hopkins, USN. He was identified as the sailor who went missing from USS Stethem (DDG-63) on Aug. 1, 2017. US Navy Photo

The sailor who went missing from guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG-63) earlier this week in the South China Sea has been identified as Lt. Steven D. Hopkins, according to a statement from U.S. 7th Fleet.

Hopkins, a 2009 graduate of The Citadel, went missing on Aug. 1 from the destroyer operating about 140 miles west of Subic Bay, the Philippines.

“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 a statement.
“I appreciate greatly the dedication and professionalism shown by all who participated in the search efforts.”

Stethem was joined in the search 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 Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy frigates, along with U.S. Navy P-3s and Japanese helicopters searching from the air.

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 PLAN frigates had been shadowing Stethem and the JMSDF ships, that were conducting a low-level bilateral exercise, when they implored to join the search, USNI News understands.

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 on Friday.

Hopkins had joined the crew of the forward deployed destroyer in July. Previous to Stethem, Hopkins had served on the guided-missile destroyer USS Ramage (DDG-61), and the cruiser USS Normandy (CG-60), and Operational Test and Evaluation Force, according to 7th Fleet.

An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

The following is the complete statement from U.S. 7th Fleet.

SOUTH CHINA SEA – The USS Stethem (DDG 63) Sailor missing since Aug. 1 has been identified as Lt. Steven D. Hopkins.

Hopkins, a Texas native who received his commission at the Citadel in May 2009 and reported to Stethem in July 2017, was reported missing and assumed overboard Aug. 1 at about 9 a.m. At the time the ship was conducting routine operations 140 miles west of Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines.

U.S. Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and Peoples Liberation Army (Navy) ships and aircraft suspended search efforts at 3 p.m. local Aug. 4. The search lasted nearly 80 hours and covered roughly 10,000 square nautical miles.

Hopkins’ previous tours include USS Ramage (DDG 61), USS Normandy (CG 60), and Operational Test and Evaluation Force.

The incident is currently being investigated.



  • muzzleloader

    What the Sam Hill is going on? In my decades of being part of the Naval community in one form or another, the news of sailors being lost at sea like this is unheard of. Such a loss. God comfort this man’s family.

    • Curtis Conway

      How many in the last few months?

      • muzzleloader

        In June a PO2 was lost in an mob incident on the CG Normandy off the east coast. Two sailors lost MOB in two months in peacetime is just unacceptable. Add to that the 7 men lost in the collision off Japan in July, it has been a bad summer for our Navy.

    • Michael W Ratigan

      This is what happens when you rely on electronics almost exclusively Where are the Topside watches the Fantail watch ? my thoughts and prayers go out to His family and friends

      • John Locke

        Cause nobody ever fell over and never recovered in the days of sail right?

        • Michael W Ratigan

          22 years active Naval service 15.5 yrs Sea service while shipmates have fallen over board since man and woman have been gg to sea. The number of incidents over the last couple years have been alarming . Which makes me wonder what happened to topside watches ?

  • TexasStomp

    God bless and comfort his family and God speed Lt. Hopkins.

  • PiratePete

    Prayers of healing out to Lt. Hopkins family. This really needs to be investigated by the authorities. Too many un-answered questions here. My 1st concern would be, was it a homocide? And are others on that ship at risk…from another crewman? Or was it just a freak accident/or even a suicide? I spent 4 years on a Spruance DD…we went to the Persian Gulf twice and Caribbean 3 times – we never lost 1 crewman while I was on that ship.(0 Deaths) We always looked out for one another! Something happened to him…

  • Curtis Conway

    A COMOPTEVFOR experienced Aegis troop reports on board for duty, and is MOB in a month? Am I the only one who sees something strange here? Us Texans do have definite attitudes about things, and Honor is real, not contrived. G-d rest his soul.

    • RDF


      • Curtis Conway

        I read the article. In my day we always called it Commander Operational Test & Evaluation (a Navy Office), as opposed to the Office of Operational Test & Evaluation ((OT&E) (10 USC 2399) is a DoD fielded test, under realistic combat conditions), a creature of, and reports directly to, congress. I think the US Navy did it first and congress though it was a good idea across the board.

        • RDF

          When I was at VX-5 COMOPTEVFOR referred to a very sharp Admiral that would look like a garden gnome, and know more about your weapon or system than you. And would ask those sorts of knowledgeable questions. “Well Lieutenant, how long will the battery last and will it fire the gas grain generator on launch, or not?” yeah. I remember.

      • Kevin Evans

        same same…

        • RDF

          No it’s not.

  • Kim Hammons

    God bless the family of Lt Hopkins. I wonder if perhaps many sailors spend too much time at sea?? That life would be extremely difficult for some sailors.

  • Jim Barden

    Does no one else find it odd that the Chief Engineer, a qualified SWO with 8 years TIS, went missing at sea?

    • USNVO

      No more odd than say a PO2 with six years of sea duty. A man overboard is such a rare event, each one tends to be somewhat unique. Because there are fewer officers onboard, they tend to make up a smaller number of manoverboards but it is not a huge number anyway you look at it.

    • Hugh Hughes

      You are right, something doesn’t feel right with this case. A Chief Engineer usually doesn’t get topside that often when a ship is underway. With him just arriving in July, he would still be getting up to speed on the Engineering Department.

  • RDF

    This young man was an O-3. Not sure how black shoes work but, it seems to me Ship, OPTEVFOR, New ship, New ship, seems like a lot of stations in the career. What am I missing?

    God comfort this young Officers Family, friends, and shipmates in their loss.

    • James Bowen

      Don’t SWOs do split sea tours? I know they used to anyway.

      • Kevin Evans

        That’s the 2 Divo tours… he was probably on his first Department Head Tour then would have gone to another Afloat tour or fleeted up to a 2nd tour Department Head job as Combat System Officer on his current ship (single long tour).

      • Kevin Evans

        After reading other comments, if he was the Chief Engineer, he would have rolled to a 2nd Department Head Tour at sea. Bottom line, we still do “split tours”… 3 yrs at sea (18 months at each job).

    • Wardog00

      Two division officer tours, one shore duty, department head school and then his first of two department head tours. Standard rotation.

      • RDF

        Thank you. Very clear.

  • publius_maximus_III

    Comfort to his family and friends at this time of grief, and gratitude for his service. Obviously he was an up-and-coming young officer in the USN. And a former Knob to boot, as tough or tougher than any of the service academies, IMHO.

    Are those wings, a submarine insignia, or something else above his medals?

    I’m shocked the PLAN participated in this search and rescue effort. Guess they were monitoring our radio frequencies.

    • USNVO

      Surface Warfare Officer pin.