WASHINGTON - The admiral leading U.S. Navy operations in the Middle East was found dead Saturday in Bahrain, the military branch said, adding that no foul play was suspected in the case.
Vice Adm. Scott Stearney, who began his post as commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command — including the U.S. Fifth Fleet — and Combined Maritime Forces in May, was found dead at his residence in the Gulf country.
“This is devastating news for the Stearney family, for the team at Fifth Fleet and for the entire Navy. Scott Stearney was a decorated naval warrior,” Admiral John Richardson, chief of naval operations, said in a statement.
“At this time no foul play is suspected.”
He said the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Bahraini Interior Ministry were cooperating on the investigation.
The Fifth Fleet’s deputy commander, Rear Adm. Paul Schlise, assumed command in the wake of Stearney’s death.
The Chicago native entered the U.S. Navy in 1982 after graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor’s degree in economics. He later obtained a master’s degree from the National Defense University.
He served in several strike fighter squadrons flying the FA-18 Hornet and served in Kabul, Afghanistan, as chief of staff of Joint Task Force 435 and later Combined Joint Interagency Task Force 435.
In the U.S., Stearney served in various roles, including as instructor and readiness officer at Navy Fighter Weapons School, according to his official biography. He also held various senior posts, including as director of operations at U.S. Central Command.