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Several crew members from the dock landing ship Carter Hall tested positive for COVID-19 last month, but Navy officials refused to say Monday how many shipmates were infected.
The Virginia-based ship was in port and continuing preparations to be a standby surge force during the hurricane season when the positive results were received on May 23, according to Navy spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Amelia Umayam.
Navy officials did not publicize the outbreak, and citing U.S. Defense Department policy, Umayam declined to say how many Carter Hall sailors have been infected.
“The crew entered a precautionary quarantine after receiving the test,” Umayam said in an email. “A portion of the crew remains on board the ship to clean and maintain in port watchstanding requirements.”
Citing security concerns, Umayam declined to say how many sailors remained on board.
The crew was tested “as part of the Navy’s proactive measures to protect force health,” she said.
Those moved ashore and into quarantine “are being checked on each day by their leadership, and are receiving deliveries of food and essential items,” Umayam said.
“Our Sailors and Marines that remain aboard the ship are enforcing social distancing, minimizing group gatherings, wearing PPE (face coverings), and cleaning/sanitizing extensively as well as remaining in contact with their chain of command,” she said.
Umayam did not answer questions by Navy Times’ deadline regarding whether the crew had been under a restriction of movement order before the positive tests.
The Navy’s COVID-19 site reported 831 active cases among sailors on Monday, with two hospitalizations and 1,645 recoveries.
The Carter Hall is the third confirmed COVID-19 outbreak aboard a Navy vessel.
The aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt suffered a highly publicized outbreak that saw it sidelined in Guam and its commanding officer fired after he appealed to higher levels for help.
The Navy also reported an outbreak among the ranks of the destroyer Kidd in April.
But the Navy stopped reporting case numbers for both stricken ships on April 30.
That about-face on disclosure followed a March 30 statement by Defense Department Press Secretary Alyssa Farah announcing that individual unit, command and base-level outbreak numbers would not be made public “out of a concern for operational security with regard to readiness.”
Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.