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US Navy aircraft carrier captain wants crew members infected with COVID-19 removed from the ship and isolated for two weeks
Even the world’s most sophisticated warship isn’t out of reach from the coronavirus pandemic. A commander of a U.S. Navy aircraft is warning senior military officials that decisive action must be done to save the lives of the warship’s crew, where more than a hundred sailors are infected with COVID-19.
In a four-page letter, Capt. Brett Crozier of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt described the situation on board the vessel, which has more than 4,000 crew members. “We are not at war,” Crozier wrote, according to CNBC. “Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors. The spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating.”
Crozier suggested offloading the crew and quarantining those who are infected while testing the rest for COVID. “Decisive action is required,” he wrote in his letter, according to CNN. “Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed US nuclear aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure. This is a necessary risk.”
While the process might affect the combat readiness of the warship, the captain argued that it is the only way to ensure that the sailors remain healthy. “It will enable the carrier and air wing to get back underway as quickly as possible while ensuring the health and safety of our Sailors,” Crozier explained. “Keeping over 4,000 young men and women on board the TR is an unnecessary risk and breaks faith with those Sailors entrusted to our care.”
The aircraft warship, which is docked in Guam at the moment, recently completed a port call in Vietnam. Fifteen days after it left Vietnam, three sailors tested positive for the COVID-19. The cases were the first reported on a vessel at sea.
While the commander of the US Pacific Fleet declined to say just how many sailors are COVID-19 positive, Adm. John Aquilino told reporters that none of them were hospitalized. “What I will tell you is I have no sailors hospitalized, I have no sailors on ventilators, I have no sailors in critical condition, no sailors in an ICU status on the Theodore Roosevelt,” he said.
“We don't disagree with the (Commanding Officer) on that ship and we're doing it in a very methodical way because it's not the same as a cruise ship, that ship has armaments on it, it has aircraft on it, we have to be able to fight fires if there are fires on board the ship, we have to run a nuclear power plant, so there's a lot of things that we have to do on that ship that make it a little bit different and unique but we're managing it and we're working through it,” acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly told CNN.