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.
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.