USS Stetham (DDG 63) is named for Steelworker Second Class (DV) Robert Dean Stethem USN (1961 - 1985). Petty Officer Stethem entered the Navy on May 4, 1981. He attended recruit training in Great Lakes, Illinois, and was assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Sixty Two, home ported at Gulfport, Mississippi. In October 1984, he was assigned to Underwater Construction Team One at Little Creek, Virginia.
Navy Diver Stethem was returning from an assignment in the Middle East when the commercial jet on which he was a passenger was hijacked by terrorists. He was shot to death, after being tortured, by the terrorists on June 15, 1985. He is buried in Section 59 of Arlington National Cemtery, near a number of other Americans who were victims of worldwide terrorism.
USS Stethem (DDG 63) is the thirteenth ship of the Arleigh Burke Class of guided missile destroyers. The ship was laid down in Pascagoula, Mississippi on 11 May 1993, launched on 17 June 1994, christened on 16 July 1994 by Mrs. Patricia L. Stethem, the mother of the ship's namesake and commissioned on 21 October 1995.
In May 1997 USS Stethem sailed to the Arabian Gulf for its maiden overseas deployment and reported for duties in Bahrain in July. Over the course of the next three months, she served as primary Air Warfare Commander, Surface Warfare Commander, Ready Strike Platform, and LINK Coordinator. Stethem provided support to both the Constellation and John F. Kennedy (CV 67) Battle Groups and U.S. Air Force aircraft engaged in Operation Southern Watch. USS Stethem returned to San Diego in Nov. 1997.
April 16, 1999 USS Stethem departed Naval Base San Diego for its second deployment to the Arabian Gulf as part of Middle East Force 99-2 conducting Freedom of Navigation Operations and Maritime Interception Operations. Stethem served as Air Warfare Commander, Ready Strike Platform, and Force Over-the-Horizon Track Coordinator and also had the opportunity to support the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Battle Group as carrier escort and plane guard. The guided-missile destroyer returned home on October 4.
In January 2001 USS Stethem departed San Diego for a scheduled deployment to the Arabian Gulf as part of MEF 01-1. The destroyer entered the U.S. Navy 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility (AoR) on Feb. 28. She conducted Maritime Interception Operations, served as Air Warfare Commander, supported Operation Southern Watch, served as a ready strike platform, and participated as a key player in two international naval exercises, Arabian Gauntlet and Neon Falcon. USS Stethem returned to homeport on June 28. In September, DDG 63 went through INSURV inspections. Within hours after the terrorist attack in New York City and Washington, D.C. on Sept. 11, the Stethem, already underway for INSURV, was called into station in support of Operation Noble Eagle and tasked with conducting air surveillance of the approaches to San Diego and providing air defense coverage to vital shipping assets.
In October 2002 USS Stethem lauched Tactical Tomahawk cruise missile at the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) western test range complex.
In January 2003, the Stethem played the opposition force role for the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Carrier Strike Group. In April DDG 63 launched U. S. Navy’s new Tactival Tomahawk cruise missile that traveled 760 n.m. to the target impact site on San Clemente Island. June 2004 USS Stethem pulled into Portland, Ore., to participate in the 97th annual Portland Rose Festival. In September USS Stetham launched U.S. Navy Tomahawk cruise missile, while underway off the coast of southern California.
In June 2005 USS Stethem arrived in its new homeport of Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan. In August USS Stethem participated in integrated strike group operations, during last two weeks, including Joint Air Sea Exercise 2005 (JASEX ‘05). In October DDG 63 departed Yokosuka for a fall underway period with the USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) Carrier Strike Group. In November Stethem participated in Annual Exercise (ANNUALEX) 2005.
In March 2006 USS Stethem concluded a three-day Passing Exercise (PASSEX), in the western Pacific Ocean, with the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) CSG and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ships. In May the Stethem participated in a Multi-Sail 2006 as part of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15. In October USS Stethem departed homeport for a regularly scheduled deployment It included participation in Counter Special Operations Forces Exercise (CSOFEX) 06. She then joined the USS Essex (LHD 2) Amphibious Ready Group for Talon Vision and Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) 2007. In November USS Stethem participated in ANNUALEX.
In January 2007 USS Stethem conducted flight deck qualifications off the coast of Japan. She returned to homeport In February. In April USS Stethem participated in exercise Malabar 07-01. In May USS Stethem departed for its Spring Patrol in the Pacific Ocean. In August DDG 63 participated in exercise Valiant Shield 2007.
In March 2008 The guided-missile destroyer returned to Yokosuka after completing a routine underway period.
February 9, 2009 USS Stethem participated in exercise Cobra Gold 2009, as part of the Essex (LHD 2) ESG.
April 16, 2010 DDG 63 participated in a Multi-Sail exercise off the coast of Okinawa. In May USS Stethem was with the USS George Washington (CVN 73) CSG to support security and stability in the 7th fleet Area of Responsibility. In November USS Stethem returned to Fleet Activities Yokosuka after a two-month Fall Patrol and later participated in joint naval drills with the Republic of Korea naval forces, in the waters west of the Korean Peninsula, as part of USS George Washington CSG.
In March 2011 The guided-missile destroyer participated in annual exercise Foal Eagle. In April USS Stethem participated in exercise Malabar 2011, with the Indian Navy. In October USS Stethem participated in a bilateral Annual Exercise (ANNUALEX), as part of the USS George Washington CSG.
January 29, 2012 DDG 63 participated in Multi-Sail 2012 exercise off the coast of Okinawa. In March USS Stethem departed homeport for a scheduled independent deployment in the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet AoR. In November USS Stethem returned to Yokosuka, Japan, after an eight-month deployment.
From January 10-16, 2013, DDG 63 was underway for local operations and ammo offload at A-12 anchorage. Stethem is homeported in Yokosuka, Japan; the front line of our Forward Deployed Naval Forces in the Pacific.