Scores of the crew aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, have tested positive for the CCP Virus (coronavirus) and the commanding officer has pleaded with Naval authorities to help isolate the sailors.
In a letter to Navy leaders on Monday, March 30, Capt. Brett Crozier, the aircraft carrier’s commanding officer, has stressed the importance of removing the stricken crew before tragedy strikes.
Out of a crew of 5,000, 700 have been tested, leaving 4,300 to go. The number that has so far tested positive to the CCP Virus is not known at this stage, although reports have it between 70 and 200 sailors.
“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,” he wrote, urging the Navy to take as much as 90 percent of the crew off the ship, as first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.
“Decisive action is required. Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure,” he wrote in the memo. “This is a necessary risk. 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. 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 spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating,” he added.
The commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet Adm. John Aquilino did not give the number of sailors that were infected but did say no one was in a serious condition.
“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,” Aquilino told reporters.
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas B. Modly spoke to Fox News from the pier in Los Angeles next to the hospital ship Mercy. Modly said to take the carrier out of commission, that has onboard two nuclear reactors, dozens of fighter jets and bombs has “huge implications.”
“Obviously, it has huge implications for the Navy,” Modly said. “That ship is not like a cruise ship. It has weapons on board. It has a lot of fuel onboard. It has aircraft, expensive aircraft. You can’t just take everybody off.”
“We can’t defend the nation with a crew that’s sick,” Modly said. “That has even more profound implications.”
He continued, “We’re looking at that letter to try and understand what exactly the issues are. It’s moving very quickly. My staff spoke to the [commanding officer] of the ship yesterday, he expressed some alarm in terms of the ability to get more beds in Guam, which we are working on very rapidly.”
To date, about 700 sailors on board have been tested, Modly said, leaving another 4,300 awaiting their fate.
The first U.S. service member has died from the novel coronavirus, the U.S. military announced on Monday. Army National Guardsman Capt. Douglas Linn Hickok from New Jersey died on Saturday, according to a statement from the Department of Defense.