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Monday
Aug072017

US Navy identifies missing sailor on USS Stethem 

US Navy(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Navy has identified the sailor who went missing from the USS Stethem as Lt. Steven D. Hopkins.

Hopkins, a Texas native, was reported missing and assumed overboard at 9 a.m. local time on Aug. 1, Pentagon officials told ABC News. During that time, the destroyer vessel was conducting routine operations in international waters, about 140 miles west of the Subic Bay in the Philippines. The Navy named Hopkins on Saturday as the sailor who has gone missing.

The sailor had reported to the USS Stethem in July 2017, and received his military commission in May 2009.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with our lost shipmate, their family, and the officers and crew of USS Stethem,” Task Force 70 commander Rear Adm. Charles Williams said in a statement, according to The Navy Times.

Hopkins had previously served in the USS Ramage, USS Normandy and Operational Test and Evaluation Force. His disappearance is “currently being investigated,” the Navy said in a press release.

Capt. Jeffrey Bennett, commander of Destroyer Squadron 15 offered his “condolences to [Hopkins’] family, friends and the Stethem steelworkers.”

The U.S. Navy suspended its search and rescue operations for Hopkins on August 4 at 3 p.m. local time after searching for the sailor for nearly 80 hours and covering an estimated 10,000 square miles.

Chinese navy and two Japanese military ships aided in the search. American and Japanese aircraft circled the area multiple times, but couldn’t locate the sailor.

“We appreciate the efforts of Japan and China in rendering assistance, in the spirit of good seamanship," said Pentagon spokesman Cpt. Jeff Davis.

The Joint Personnel Recovery Center of Hawaii also assisted in the search, according to the Navy Times.

Hopkins’ disappearance isn't the first major search and rescue mission the Navy has conducted in the Asian-Pacific Region this summer.

The first search and rescue effort took place between June 8 and June 11 to locate missing Petty Officer 3rd Class Peter Mims of USS Shiloh. Mims was found hiding in the ship's engineering area four days after search operations were suspended. He was charged with abandoning watch and dereliction of duty, a Navy spokesman said July 18.

The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force and Japanese Coast Guard spent over 50 hours and covered approximately 5,500-square-miles assisting the Navy with this search.

The spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet said Mims was forced to attend the “admiral’s mast,” a non-judicial punishment with the Navy “due to the seriousness this had on… our Japanese allies.”

The Navy also lost seven sailors on June 17 when the Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship 56 miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.

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