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A replacement has been named for Vice Adm. Scott Stearney, the top Navy admiral in the Middle East, after he was found dead in his residence in Bahrain Saturday.
Vice Adm. Jim Malloy, the deputy chief of naval operations for operations, plans and strategy, will take Stearney’s place commanding U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and the 5th Fleet, Stars and Stripes reported Monday.
Defense officials called Stearney’s death an “apparent suicide,” CBS News reported. Navy officials declined to comment on those reports, according to Stars and Stripes.
“Scott Stearney was a decorated naval warrior. He was a devoted husband and father, and he was a good friend to all of us,” Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson said in a statement Saturday. “The Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Bahraini Ministry of Interior are cooperating on the investigation, but at this time no foul play is suspected.”
There will be a private memorial for Stearney on the Navy’s Bahrain base, officials told Stars and Stripes Monday.
The 5th Fleet that Stearney commanded is based in Bahrain. It functions in the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean as well as strategically important channels including the Suez Canal in Egypt, according to CBS News.
Stearney was a three-star admiral who had served as commander of the 5th Fleet since May after taking over from Vice Adm. John C. Aquilino, who is now commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Stearney had served in the Navy since 1982 after graduating from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, according to CBS News. After becoming an aviator in 1984, he flew for more than 4,500 “mishap free” hours, according to CBS News.
Stearney’s death occurred while world leaders were gathered for the G-20 summit, during which Middle Eastern power player Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia received a mix of reactions from fellow leaders.
There is no confirmation that Stearney died by suicide, but if that is the case, it would underscore the grave statistics the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released in November. More than 47,000 people died by suicide in 2017, compared to roughly 45,000 in 2016, according to data from the CDC.
Other recent suicide studies showed concerning trends including a jump in suicides among younger veterans noted by the Department of Veterans Affairs in late September.