Vice-admiral Scott Stearney, the head of U.S. Navy operations in the Middle East, was found dead on Saturday in his residence in Bahrain, according to the Navy.
Defense officials said an investigation had been launched into Stearney’s death, though no foul play is suspected. Officials told CBS News that the death was being treated as an “apparent suicide.”
Stearney, who the Navy Times said was 58 at the time of his death, took charge of the Navy’s Fifth Fleet and Naval Forces Central Command in May. He oversaw U.S. naval operations in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, which includes more than 20,000 U.S. and allied forces, The New York Times reported.
Adm. John M. Richardson, the chief of naval operations, said in a Saturday statement that the deputy commander of the Fifth Fleet, Rear Adm. Paul J. Schlise, had assumed command.
“This is devastating news for the Stearney family, for the team at Fifth Fleet and 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, a Chicago native, joined the Navy in 1982 after graduating from the University of Notre Dame, according to his Navy biography. An FA-18 fighter pilot who accumulated more than 4,500 flight hours, Stearney served as a Top Gun instructor, a chief of staff of Joint Task Force 435 in Afghanistan and commander at U.S. Transportation Command, Strike Force Training Atlantic and Navy Warfare Development Command, among other notable stints.
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.