The number of sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt who have contracted COVID-19 continues to climb as remaining results of the ship’s coronavirus tests trickle in.
Navy officials said Monday that 955 Roosevelt sailors have active cases of the novel coronavirus, a number that does not include 14 crew members who have been declared fully recovered after yielding two consecutive negative tests. The number of positive cases makes up approximately 20 percent of the ship’s 4,800-person crew.
And while a “small number” of tests are still pending, Navy officials said the number of hospitalizations is down from last week. Just one sailor assigned to the aircraft carrier is currently receiving treatment at U.S. Naval Hospital Guam, Navy officials said. No personnel have required a transfer to the intensive care unit.
The Big Stick has now been ported in Guam for exactly one month after Navy leadership ordered the ship’s former commanding officer, Capt. Brett Crozier, to sideline the carrier in an attempt to stem the swift spread of the virus throughout the ship’s tight quarters.
Navy leadership recently concluded an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the former skipper’s dismissal, and relayed a recommendation last week that Crozier should be restored to his prior position.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday and recently-appointed acting Navy Secretary James McPherson — who replaced former acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly after his tumultuous resignation — suggested Crozier be reinstated, according to information first obtained by the New York Times.
Gilday and McPherson discussed their findings last week with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, and met Friday with Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper.
“The Navy’s inquiry covered a complex timeline of communications between Naval officers, as well as response efforts spanning a dozen time zones and multiple commands,” a senior defense official who spoke on background told Navy Times. The official was not authorized to speak on the record while the investigation remains ongoing.
“Given the importance of the topic and the complex nature, [Esper] is going to read the full written report,” the official continued.
“Although many in the media are focused on one aspect of the initial inquiry, it is, in fact, about far more than one person. The secretary wants to ensure that the report is thorough and can stand up under the rightful scrutiny of Congress, the media, the families and crew of the Theodore Roosevelt, and the American people. To ensure that, he wants to actually read the report.”
Nearly 90 percent of the crew has been moved onto the island as the Navy awaits the final decision on Crozier’s fate.
Navy officials also announced Monday that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases onboard the guided-missile destroyer Kidd had climbed to 47.
Two sailors from the destroyer have been medically evacuated, and 15 were transferred from Kidd to the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship Makin Island “for monitoring due to persistent symptoms,” Navy officials said. Makin Island has a medical capacity that exceeds anything the destroyer would be capable of providing.
The Everett, Washington-based ship, which was underway in the eastern Pacific, is expected to port in San Diego this week to conduct deep cleaning and disinfecting of the vessel’s tight quarters.
Approximately 55 percent of the destroyer’s 300-plus-person crew is awaiting testing.
“We are taking every precaution to ensure we identify, isolate, and prevent any further spread onboard the ship,” said Rear Adm. Don Gabrielson, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet.
“Our medical team continues coordinating with the ship and our focus is the safety and well-being of every sailor.”
Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.