In a move to prevent an outbreak among recruits at Boot Camp, the staff is getting restricted to base for up to 90 days, according to an email obtained by Navy Times.
“We will move all staff onboard Recruit Training Command] at 1800 Thursday night,” the email from Command Master Chief David Twiford said. “No one will be allowed to leave the installation.”
The email detailed some limited exceptions to the order, such as single parents with no alternative child care, but that for the most part everyone was going to comply.
“We want to take care of families but our families will have to be able to for the most part function without us for a bit, just like when we deploy.”
A mass restriction of active duty training staff on shore duty to the base is an extreme measure, one that points to the severity of the threat. It’s a move that the Navy says is designed to protect a vital training pipeline as the service tries to push through the pandemic while limiting the impact to the fleet.
In an email to Navy Times, Naval Service Training Command spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Frederick Martin said the move, which affects all active duty service members assigned to RTC, was meant to “minimize the chance of the virus infecting this vital accessions pipeline for the Navy and ensure our ability to man the Fleet.”
“RTC recognizes this will place additional burden on its Sailors, who are already performing an arduous mission during their shore duty, and together with their families, trying to navigate this national crisis,” Martin wrote.
“We understand and greatly appreciate the sacrifice these Sailors and their families are making, but given the extraordinary circumstances we are in, this action must be taken to ensure the ability to protect our recruits and staff while creating basically trained Sailors.”
In his email, Twiford said pets would not be a reason to stay off base.
Martin, meanwhile, said the community was stepping up to help.
“Staff members are being asked to exhaust all available options and make an effort to find suitable places for their pets,” he said. “Thankfully there are shipmates, family, friends, and neighbors who are stepping up to help with animal care.”
The Navy has instituted a 14-day restricted period for recruits entering boot camp where RTC is “maintaining strict hygiene policy, increased social distancing when possible, and adjustment of staff procedures to limit potential spread and contamination,” Martin said.
During the restricted period, recruits sleep at least six feet apart but once they start normal training, recruits are still marching in close formation and sitting in classes together, while maintaining distance “where applicable,” Martin said.
David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News.