Top Navy admiral overseeing operations in Middle East dies

The Navy announced Saturday that Vice Admiral Scott Stearney, the branch's top officer overseeing forces in the Middle East, was found dead in his residence in Bahrain.

In a video statement Saturday afternoon, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said that "no foul play is suspected" in Stearney's death, but that an investigation will be launched. Defense Department officials told CBS News that the cause of death was an "apparent suicide."

ADVERTISEMENT

"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," Richardson said.

"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," Richardson continued. "He was a devoted husband and father, and he was a good friend to all of us."

A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Stearney joined the Navy in 1982 and served for 36 years, according to the Navy Times.

As commander of the Navy's Fifth Fleet, Stearney oversaw tens of thousands of U.S. sailors and other forces. He was succeeded Saturday as commander of the fleet by Rear Adm. Paul Schlise, according to Richardson.

Stearney also served previously as the operations director of U.S. Central Command and as chief of staff for joint task forces in Afghanistan.