Local brothers reunite at sea aboard USS Stethem

Two brothers, deployed on two ships currently operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, got a rare chance to catch up face-to-face Aug. 18 during an equipment transfer between their ships.

Pinehurst natives Lt. j.g. Christopher Kester, strike officer aboard USS Stethem (DDG 63), linked up with his younger brother, Ensign James “Jimmy” Kester, assigned to USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), got to meet briefly on Stethem’s flight deck for a quick embrace and a few brotherly words before turning to and going their separate ways.

Chris said the brief reunion was, “a welcome surprise.”

“It was great to see my brother working alongside our team as we conducted maritime interdiction operations,” he said. “I am proud he followed in my footsteps to become a surface warfare officer.”

With both ships stationed on opposite ends of the country — Stethem is based in San Diego while Carter Hall is homeported in Norfolk, Virginia — neither brother imagined they would find each other together halfway around the world. To their surprise, however, Stethem and Carter Hall joined together to conduct integrated operations in the Gulf of Oman. When the ships conducted an equipment transfer, Jimmy jumped at the opportunity to accompany the equipment to Stethem so he could spend a brief moment with his older brother.

As Carter Hall’s small boat arrived alongside Stethem, Jimmy climbed up the pilot’s ladder to find Chris on the flight deck waiting for him. The brothers embraced, took a quick picture to send home to their family, and enjoyed a few minutes of small talk before saying goodbye once more.

“It’s been about nine months since I last saw my brother,” Jimmy said. “That’s the longest we’ve ever been apart. Even though it was only for a few minutes, it was worth it.”

The U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses approximately 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, parts of the Indian Ocean and three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, Suez Canal and Strait of Bab al Mandeb.

Feature photo: Lt. j.g. Christopher Kester, strike officer assigned USS Stethem (DDG 63, and Ensign James “Jimmy” Kester, assigned to USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), pose for a photo upon reuniting aboard Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63). Stethem and Carter Hall are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations to help ensure maritime security and stability in the Middle East region. Photo by Ensign Rory Cox.


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