SOUTH CHINA SEA (NNS) — After more than three days of continuous search efforts, the U.S. Navy suspended operations to locate a Sailor assigned to guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) at 4 p.m. Japan Standard Time Aug. 4.
Ships from the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force and People’s Liberation Army (Navy) also participated in the search, demonstrating the common bond shared by all mariners to render assistance at sea.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with our lost shipmate, their family and the officers and crew of USS Stethem,” said Rear Adm. Charles Williams, commander, Task Force 70. “I appreciate greatly the dedication and professionalism shown by all who participated in the search efforts.”
The Sailor, whose name is being withheld pending completion of next of kin notifications, was reported missing and assumed overboard Aug. 1, at about 9 a.m. At the time, Stethem was conducting routine operations about 140 miles west of Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines.
Helicopters from Japan Maritime Self-Defense Ship JS Izumo, as well as U.S. P-3 Maritime Patrol Aircraft, flew multiple search missions, while Stethem, USNS Vice Adm. K.R. Wheeler, USNS Amelia Earhart, Izumo, JS Sazanami and two People’s Liberation Army (Navy) frigates searched the surface. The Joint Personnel Recovery Center Hawaii provided additional distance support.
“After an extensive search, with help from the JMSDF and PLA(N), we were unable to locate our Sailor,” said Capt. Jeffrey Bennett, commander, Destroyer Squadron 15. “I offer my deepest condolences to the Sailor’s family, friends and the Stethem Steelworkers.”
The U.S. Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and People’s Liberation Army (Navy) spent 79 hours in a comprehensive search that covered roughly 10,000 square miles.
An investigation is currently underway.