Defense officials told CBS News it is being called an “apparent suicide.”
Stearney was the commander of the U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet. Rear Adm. Paul Schlise, the deputy commander of the 5th Fleet, has assumed command, the Navy said in a statement.
“This is devastating news for the Stearney family, for the team at 5th Fleet, and for the entire U.S. Navy,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said.
“Scott Stearney was a decorated Naval warrior. He was a devoted husband and father, and he was a good friend to all,” he added.
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and the Bahraini Ministry of Interior are investigating the death, but repeatedly stated that there is no reason to suspect any nefarious cause.
“He became an aviator in 1984 and flew the FA-18 Hornet in several fighter squadrons and logged more than 4,500 “mishap free” hours of flight.”
“Previously the director of operations for U.S. Central Command, Stearney became commander of the 5th Fleet in May 2018, relieving Vice Adm. John C. Aquilino.”
“The 5th Fleet operates in the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean, including the critical strategic choke points of the Strait of Hormuz and the Suez Canal.”
However, this is not the first non-combat death the Navy has investigated over the past few months.
Chastity Gray, a housing counselor, died on October 13 and Navy Cmdr. Joel Del Mundo Tiu died a day earlier.
The deaths were reported unconnected.
“I can confirm that NCIS is looking into the circumstances of these two deaths, but NCIS does not discuss the specifics of ongoing investigations,” said Ed Buice, an NCIS spokesman.
Base officials would not release any of the details surrounding the cause of deaths, citing privacy.
Many people wonder if there is something more here that the military is not saying.