US Vice Admiral, Commander of the Fifth Fleet
BORN: OCTOBER 21, 1960 – DIED: DECEMBER 1, 2018, AGED 58
THE man responsible for the safe transit of much of the world’s oil supplies as commander of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet was found dead at his residence in Bahrain. His death, an apparent suicide, is under investigation by the service he worked in for 36 years.
A highly-decorated Vice Admiral with some 20,000 US and Allied sailors under his command, Stearney’s ships patrolled more than 2,500 square miles of waters in the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, the Gulf of Oman and the upper Indian Ocean, territory that includes critical sea lanes.
Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Stearney gained a BA in economics at the University of Notre Dame. He enlisted in the US Navy in 1982 and had a storybook career that included service as a Top Gun fighter pilot, with more than 4,500 hours of “mishap-free” flight time.
He made more than 1,000 landings on aircraft carriers, commanded an aircraft carrier strike group and served in Kabul, Afghanistan, as chief of a joint task force.
Previous assignments included stints as commander of the Navy’s Warfare Development Command, and director of operations for the Central Command. As recently as September 9, he admonished Iran for destabilising the Gulf region in a conference call with the Arab media and vowed to use his fleet to maintain peace in the region while keeping the seas clear of mines.
In recent years, the forces he led had confronted threats including marauding pirates, Iranian revolutionary guard attack boats, weapons smugglers, and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen firing missiles at commercial ships. He is survived by his wife and children.
DECORATED: Vice Admiral Stearney