U.S. Navy’s guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) arrived at its new homeport, Naval Base San Diego, July 18, following 14 years of forward-deployed service in the Indo-Pacific region operating from Japan, according to a news release put out by Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
While in San Diego, Stethem will undergo a planned maintenance and modernization period. Stethem will be fitted with the latest combat system suite, which includes state of the art air defense, ballistic missile defense, surface warfare and undersea warfare capabilities. Cmdr. John Rummel is Stethem’s Commanding Officer.
“Naval Base San Diego is excited to welcome the officers and crew of USS Stethem to the Navy’s Finest Installation,” said Naval Base San Diego (NBSD) Commanding Officer Capt. Mark Nieswiadomy. “Stethem is joining one of the fastest growing fleet concentration areas in the world, and my team and I are standing by to provide first class support to the Sailors and Families of this fine warship in order to make their transition from 7th Fleet to 3rd Fleet as smooth as possible.”
As part of the U.S. 7th Fleet’s Forward Deployed Naval Forces in Japan, Stethem worked alongside allies and partners to provide security and stability throughout a free and open Indo-Pacific. Stethem arrived in Yokosuka, Japan, in June of 2005 while under the command of Cmdr. Robert Gonzales and operated alongside the now decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) as part of the Kitty Hawk Strike Group.
While serving in 7th Fleet, Stethem conducted a wide range of operations, exercises and port visits, including disaster relief as well as search and rescue missions. In 2011, the ship supported Operation Tomodachi to provide relief to Japanese citizens affected by the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, and this year, joined Japan-led search operations for a missing Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-35.
Stethem also operated in several joint operations, including Resilient Shield 18 and tri-carrier operations with the aircraft carriers USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and USS Nimitz (CVN 68).
Stethem participated in multiple multinational exercises including Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) with regional navies in South and Southeast Asia, Cobra Gold with Thailand, and multiple cooperative deployments with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ships.
Along with participating in exercises, Stethem Sailors conducted port calls in multiple countries in the region, including Australia, Bahrain, China, Indonesia, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, and Thailand.
Stethem, commissioned in 1995 at Port Hueneme, California, is named in honor of former Navy Seabee Petty Officer Robert Dean Stethem, who was killed in 1985 during the hijacking of TWA Flight 847. Stethem, a passenger on the flight, was singled out by the terrorists because of his military status. Stethem was badly beaten and ultimately executed.