United States Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt commanding officer Captain Brett E. Crozier is requesting for assistance in response to accelerating spread of COVID-19. The aircraft carrier is currently docked at Naval Base Guam.
The US Navy officer noted, in a letter obtained by San Francisco Chronicle, that “if required the USS Theodore Roosevelt would embark all assigned Sailors, set sail, and be ready to fight and beat any adversary that dares challenge the US or our allies. The virus would certainly have an impact, but in combat we are willing to take certain risks that are not acceptable in peacetime.”
“However, we are not at war, and therefore cannot allow a single Sailor to perish as a result of this pandemic unnecessarily. Decisive action is required now in order to comply with CDC and NAVADMIN 083/20 guidance and prevent tragic outcomes,” Captain Crozier said.
The aircraft carrier commanding officer said that total 14-day isolation cannot be done “due to a warship’s inherent limitation of space.”
“The spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating,” he said.
In conclusion, Captain Crozier said “Decisive action is required. Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed U.S. aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure. A portion of the crew (approximately 10%) would have to stay aboard to run the reactor plant, sanitize the ship,ensure security, and provide for contingency response to emergencies. This is a necessary risk. It will enable the carrier and airwing 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,” he said.
In a statement, a US Navy official said “Navy leadership is moving quickly to take all necessary measures to ensure the health and safety of the crew of USS Theodore Roosevelt, and is pursuing options to address the concerns raised by the commanding officer.”