OKINAWA, Japan - The guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) opened its brow to the public Nov. 13-14 and gave guided tours to nearly 2,500 people during the White Beach Festival.
Visitors included local leaders, community members, members of Okinawa-based U.S. and Japanese forces and 17 local media representatives from more than 10 different networks and publications.
Commander Fleet Activity, Okinawa, Public Affairs Officer Patricia Sloss said this was the first time a U.S. Navy ship had provided guided tours to the local Okinawan media in decades.
Media personnel were welcomed aboard with a question and answer session with Commanding Officer Cmdr. Henry C. Adams and received a special tour of the ship and the opportunity to interview members of the crew.
The first day for tours of the ship more than 150 people braved the rain and wind to see the surface combatant vessel. Better weather conditions the next day drew in crowds of more than 2,000 local community members with lines stretching well around the end of the pier.
“It’s obvious what a big deal this is to the local community,” said Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Justin Osteen. “They will put up with pouring rain or even an extremely long line, just to have the opportunity to see a U.S. Navy ship first hand.”
Stethm is the first U.S. Navy named in honor of for an enlisted service member, Robert Dean Stethem. Stethem was killed by one of the terrorists who hijacked Trans World Airlines Flight 847 on June 14, 1985, when he was shot in head and thrown onto the tarmac of the Beirut airport after the flight was taken over at Athens. Stethem is forward-deployed to Commander Fleet Activities, Yokosuka, Japan in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.