United States aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt has been knocked out of action by an outbreak of COVID-19 aboard the ship.
CAPTION: USS Theodore Roosevelt in Da Nang (5 March 2020) to commemorate the 25th anniversary of US/Vietnam diplomatic relations. Photo from USS Theodore Roosevelt Facebook page.
FIND ALL OUR COVID-19 COVERAGE: HERE
As of 1 April, 93 crew members had tested positive to the disease and a large part of the crew was being evacuated into isolation in Guam.
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said stopping the spread of the virus was the fight the US Navy was in right now.
“Teddy Roosevelt is a frontline theater in this new battle, and we have to respond with the skill and agility and direct communication required to protect our people and our nation,” he said.
“We already have nearly 1000 personnel off the ship right now, and in the next couple of days, we expect to have about 2700 of them off the ship.”
However, Acting Secretary Modly said the navy could not remove every sailor from the Roosevelt, noting that although it was big, it floats and it has a lot of people on it, the comparison of the aircraft carrier to a cruise ship pretty much ended there.
“This ship has weapons on it, it has munitions on it, it has expensive aircraft, and it has a nuclear power plant,” he said.
“It requires a certain number of people on that ship to maintain safety and security.”
The COVID-19 outbreak on USS Theodore Roosevelt was possibly picked up on a visit to Hanoi, Vietnam.
Precautionary testing after the visit detected no COVID-19 at the time, but two sailors tested positive 14 days later.
Despite evacuating the two affected sailors, conducting intensive contact tracing, isolations and deep cleaning of the ship, it was too late to stop the disease taking hold.
The ship arrived in Guam on 27 March and is working to spread as much of the crew around the base as possible.
Commanding Officer of the ship Navy Captain Brett E. Crozier said the crew were in good spirits and facing this new challenge with a level of professionalism that he had come to expect from such an amazing and resilient team.
The first two sailors affected have since recovered in Guam.