USS Stethem (DDG-63) is a modern guided-missile destroyer in service with the United States Navy (USN). It is part of the large Arleigh Burke-class which forms the bulk of the USN destroyer force, the group originally numbering some seventy-six total planned warships with some sixty-four currently in active service (2017). Stethem was ordered on February 22nd, 1990 and saw her keel laid down by Ingalls Shipbuilding on May 11th, 1993. Commissioned for service on October 21st, 1995, the vessel makes its homeport at Yokosuka, Japan and has been an active deterrent to Chinese and North Korean aspirations in the Asia-Pacific Region.
Stethem is known by the nickname of "The Steel Worker" and fights under the motto of "Steadfast and Courageous".
USS Stethem carries the name of Robert Dean Stethem, a USN Seabee diver murdered by elements of Hezbollah on June 15th, 1985 in Beirut, Lebanon when the commercial airliner he was on, TWA Flight 847, was taken over by Iranian-backed Hezbollah hijackers.
USS Stethem is built to the original base Arleigh Burke standard known as "Flight I" (there are currently four recognized "flights" including Flight II, Flight IIA and Flight III). Flight I ships have a displacement around 9,165 short tons and a length reaching 505 feet. The crew complement numbers 300 personnel. Future flights have incorporated various improves to their systems and subsystems to further broaden their tactical value at-sea. All of the warships in the series center on the AEGIS Combat System with multi-function PESA radar providing uncompromised situational awareness.
Beyond the stated dimension, USS Stethem has a beam of 66 feet and a draught down to 31 feet.
Power is from 4 x General Electric LM2500-30 marine gas turbines developing 100,000 horsepower to 2 x Shafts under stern. This allows the vessel to make headway at over 30 knots and reach out to 4,400 nautical miles.
Processing systems include the AN/SPY-1D 3D radar, the AN/SPS-67(V)2 surface-search radar and the AN/SPG-62 Fire Control (FC) radar systems. Sonar is handled by the AN/SQS-53C series unit as well as the AN/SQR-19 tactical towed-array fit. The warship is also equipped for LAMPS III through the AN/SQQ-28 system. LAMPS is the "Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System" working in conjunction with navy helicopters in the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) role. USS Stethem operates up to 2 x Sikorsky MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters through a stern-based helicopter pad and onboard full-service hangar.
The Arleigh Burke-class warships are designed to counter multiple threats arising at sea and are therefore equipped with a mix of conventional and missile-minded weaponry. There is 1 x 29-cell and 1 x 61-cell banks (Mk 41 Vertical Launching System = VLS) fitted fore and aft supporting up to ninety Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs), sea-launched cruise missiles (Tomahawk variety) and ASROCs (Anti-Submarine ROCket). The missile installations form the heart of the offensive and defensive punch of the class. More conventional weaponry is had through the 1 x 127mm /54 caliber Mark 45 turreted deck gun, 2 x 25mm Bushmaster chain guns, 2 x 20mm Phalanx digitally-controlled Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWSs) and 4 x 12.7mm Browning heavy machine guns. Additionally, there are 2 x Mk 32 triple torpedo tubes for submarine-hunting.
USS Stethem's first official call to action was in November of 1996 when the vessel was used to search for survivors of a USAF C-130 crash off the California coast. She has since deployed to various ports across the Pacific and Middle East and participated in several major exercises. Her second deployment, beginning in April 1999, took her to Persian Gulf waters. To date (2017), USS Stethem has completed four total deployments and continues to serve as a deterrent and in friendly port calls, centered mainly in the Pacific Ocean.
August 2017 - On August 1st, 2017, a USN search was underway for a missing sailor.