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US Navy’s 5th Fleet Commander found dead in ‘apparent suicide,’ officials say

U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Scott A. Stearney, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet/Combined Maritime Forces, delivers remarks during the Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (TF 51/5) change of command ceremony. Brig. Gen. Matthew G. Trollinger relieved Brig. Gen. Francis L. Donovan, who served as the commanding general of TF 51/5 since July 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Wesley Timm/Released)
December 01, 2018

The commander of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet has passed away this weekend.

Vice Adm. Scott Stearney, commander of the 5th Fleet and the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, was found dead in his Bahrain home on Saturday. Defense officials told CBS News that the incident is being ruled an “apparent suicide” but there has been no official confirmation of this so far.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson reported Stearney’s death via statement and video posted online. Watch it below:

“Team, it’s my sad duty to inform you that today the Secretary of the Navy and I were informed that Vice Adm. Scott Stearney, our commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and commander of U.S. Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, was found deceased in his residence in Bahrain today,” Richardson said.

Bahrain is home to the headquarters of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and 5th Fleet, located at Naval Support Activity Bahrain.

“This is devastating news for the Stearney family, for the team at 5th Fleet and for the entire Navy,” Richardson said. “Scott Stearney was a decorated naval warrior. He was a devoted husband and father, and he was a good friend to all of us.”

Stearney served as a Naval Officer since Oct. 1982, and a became a Naval Aviator in April 1984, according to his Navy profile. He flew the FA-18 Hornet in strike fighter operations.

His Navy profile also details his career, stating:

His fleet assignments include the Golden Warriors of Strike Fighter Squadron VFA-87, the Knighthawks of Strike Fighter Squadron VFA-136 and strike warfare officer for commander, Carrier Group 4.  Stearney commanded the Wildcats of VFA-131 and Carrier Air Wing Seven embarked on USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.  He served in Kabul, Afghanistan, as chief of staff of Joint Task Force 435 and later Combined Joint Interagency Task Force 435.

Ashore, Stearney served as instructor and readiness officer at Navy Fighter Weapons School, aide de camp to the chief of naval operations, deputy director J6 U.S. Joint Forces Command, executive assistant to deputy commander, U.S. Joint Forces Command and chief of staff, Strike Force Training Atlantic.

His flag assignments include commander, U.S. Transportation Command’s Joint Enabling Capabilities Command, commander, Strike Force Training Atlantic, commander, Carrier Strike Group 4, commander, Navy Warfare Development Command, and director of operations, U.S. Central Command.

Most recently, Stearney was commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet, Combined Maritime Forces from May 2018 until December 1, 2018.

Richardson added that the Naval Criminal Investigative Service are working together with investigators in Bahrain to investigate the incident. “At this time, no foul place is suspected,” Richardson noted.

The 5th Fleet’s deputy commander, Rear Adm. Paul Schlise, has taken command of the 5th Fleet “and is maintaining continuity in our responsibilities and posture in the U.S. 5th Fleet,” according to Richardson.

“I ask that you keep the Stearney family in your prayers and respect their privacy as they navigate through these very difficult times,” Richardson said. “We will keep you informed as we learn more.”

Stearney also earned the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Air Medal, and various other accolades.