The extent of the COVID-19 outbreak onboard the destroyer Kidd is becoming more clear as the Navy ramps up its testing of the ship’s 300-plus crew members.
As of April 27, there are 47 confirmed coronavirus cases on the destroyer. The first Kidd sailor tested positive after being medically evacuated from the ship on April 23.
Navy officials said Monday that a second sailor had also been evacuated.
Fifteen sailors, meanwhile, have been transferred from the destroyer to the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship Makin Island “for monitoring due to persistent symptoms,” 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.
No sailors assigned to Kidd have needed the use of a ventilator or warranted a transfer to an intensive care unit, Navy officials said Monday. Remaining crew members are using N95 masks and personal protective equipment in accordance to guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Testing continues, and we expect additional cases,” the Navy said Friday. “All measures are being taken to evaluate the extent of the COVID-19 transmission on the ship.”
The first sailor to be medically evacuated “is already improving and will self-isolate,” said Rear Adm. Don Gabrielson, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet.
“We are taking every precaution to ensure we identify, isolate, and prevent any further spread onboard the ship. Our medical team continues coordinating with the ship and our focus is the safety and well-being of every sailor.”
Approximately 55 percent of the destroyer’s crew is awaiting testing.
The outbreak onboard Kidd comes in the wake of the Navy concluding its testing of 100 percent of the crew assigned to the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt.
Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Charles Robert Thacker, Jr., 41, died April 13 at U.S. Naval Hospital Guam due to COVID-19 complications.
Thacker was moved to the ICU on April 9 after being found unresponsive by other quarantined sailors. He is the only Theodore Roosevelt sailor to have succumbed to the virus.
Navy officials would not specify whether Thacker had any preexisting medical conditions that made him more susceptible to COVID-19.
Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.