Mar 31, 2020 - Health

Aircraft carrier captain pleads for help after crew infected with coronavirus

The nuclear aircraft carrier and embarked air wing are deployed supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. (Photo by Mai/Mai/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images)
U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt. Photo: Mai/Mai/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images

The captain of a nuclear aircraft carrier docked in Guam asked the U.S. Navy for more resources after nearly 100 members of his crew became infected with the coronavirus, saying, "[t]he spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating," per a letter obtained and confirmed by the San Francisco Chronicle.

The big picture: In the letter sent to senior Navy officials, Capt. Brett Crozier noted that with "inherent limitations of space" on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, it was nearly impossible to social distance with a crew of more 4,000 and follow quarantine guidelines to stay docked for 14 days.

What he's saying:

  • “The Diamond Princess was able to more effectively isolate people onboard than TR, due to a much higher percentage of individualized and compartmentalized accommodations onboard for paying customers. Their measures still allowed hundreds of people to become infected," Crozier wrote.
  • “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," Crozier wrote.

The captain asked for “compliant quarantine rooms” onshore in Guam for his entire crew “as soon as possible.”

  • On Friday, there were reports of at least two dozen positive cases. But by Monday, a senior officer aboard the massive aircraft carrier told the Chronicle between 150 and 200 sailors had tested positive.

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly told CNN Tuesday that “we’re very engaged in this, we’re very concerned about it and we’re taking all the appropriate steps."

  • "We have been working actually the last seven days to move those sailors off the ship and get them into accommodations in Guam. The problem is that Guam doesn’t have enough beds right now."

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