The US Pacific Fleet is preparing shore quarantine for sailors of the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier after a scathing letter from its captain exposed the situation on the mighty ship carrying some 5000 sailors, 23 of whom had tested positive for COVID-19 infection.
The US Navy is working with the governor of Guam to find places to quarantine USS Theodore Roosevelt crew, Pacific Fleet commander, Admiral John Aquilino said Wednesday. “As the ship is into Guam, we’re utilizing all the capacity that we have while at the same time … working through the governor of Guam to potentially identify some hotels that could meet the need,” he said in a statement.
Earlier, the US Navy did not permit the sailors who had tested negative to COVID-19 to leave the ship. It was only after a letter written by the captain of USS Theodore Roosevelt, Brett Crozier which was leaked to the media, that a change of heart ensued.
In the letter, the captain wrote that the warship faces a situation worse than the Diamond Princess cruise ship (that was prevented from docking in Japan due to COVID-19 cases onboard) as most of the crew members are required to remain in close quarters on the carrier to maintain its combat readiness.
The letter went on to say that only a small number of infected sailors have been off-loaded and most of the crew members remain aboard the ship; which has limitations of space, making following US Navy’s quarantine guidelines impossible, according to the contents of the letter published in the San Francisco Chronicle on Tuesday.
Crozier had asked for more quarantine rooms on land in Guam, where the carrier stays, for his entire crew as soon as possible. He also said the Theodore Roosevelt is facing a much worse situation than the Diamond Princess cruise ship, even under best-case results, given the current environment.
In response to Crozier's letter, US acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly told CNN on Tuesday that crew members were needed to stay on the carrier because it has armaments and aircraft on it. "If that ship had to sail today for combat it's ready to sail right now if it was needed," said Jeff Taliaferro, the vice director for operations for the Joint Staff of the US, on Monday, CNN reported.