After 14 years of service in Japan, the USS Stethem recently returned to the Naval Base in San Diego. Nicknamed after Steelworker 2nd Class Robert D. Stethem, the crew of the ship refers to themselves as Steelworkers. Stethem was a Navy diver who died hijacking Flight TWA 847 in 1985. The guided-missile destroyer and Arleigh-Burke class ship joined the Navy fleet in 1995, but relocated to Yokosuka in 2005.
Apart of the 7th fleet, the USS Stethem was responsible for many operations, exercises, search and rescue missions, and disaster relief. In 2011, the USS Stethem aided in Operation Tomodachi, which helped give relief to Japanese citizens devastated by the Tohoku tsunami and earthquake. Likewise, the ship aided in a Japanese-led search to find Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-35, which went missing earlier in the year.
During its time in San Diego, the ship will be improved and become more modernized with today’s advanced military technology. The ship will now acquire the latest combat system which includes underwater warfare capabilities, missile defense, sophisticated air defense, and new surface warfare capabilities. Lastly, the USS Stethem will be moving from the 7th fleet to the 3rd fleet.
Captain Mark Nieswiadomy, commanding officer of Naval Base San Diego, had nothing but praise for the USS Stethem. He commented on how the USS Stethem is joining one of the most thriving and ever-growing Navy areas in the world. It is evident that the Navy thinks very highly of the USS Stethem and is very proud of what it has accomplished.