Naval Ships At Risk Of Coronavirus Spread

by Amitabh Joshi 1 year ago Views 1490

You can take cruise ships off the seas but navies cannot stop sailing. Alarm bells are now ringing after the Commander of a US Aircraft Carrier has sent out an emergency call to the US Navy for assistance amid a coronavirus outbreak on his ship.

Over 70 sailors are COVID-19 positive on the USS Theodore Roosevelt (pictured above) which has a crew of over 4,000 personnel. The nuclear-powered carrier is presently docked in the island territory of Guam in the Western Pacific. Seeking evacuation of 4,000 sailors, Capt. Brett Crozier wrote in a memo to the Navy's Pacific Fleet that "We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors. The spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating”.

A document of the US Naval Command by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, traced back to March 26, underlines the extent of the commander's desperation. Part of it reads: “Our medical team aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt is performing testing for the crew consistent with CDC guidelines, and we are working to increase the rate of testing as much as possible.”

It goes on to state that the “USS Theodore Roosevelt is in Guam on a previously-scheduled port visit. The resources at our naval medical facilities in Guam will allow us to more effectively test, isolate, and if necessary treat Sailors”.

“We're taking this day by day. Our top two priorities are taking care of our people and maintaining mission readiness. Both of those go hand in glove. We are confident that our aggressive response will keep USS Theodore Roosevelt able to respond to any crisis in the region”, Admiral Gilday added.

The situation is frightening. Civilian ships which have seen fatal coronavirus outbreaks have even been likened to ‘floating petri dishes’.

Closer to home, while the Indian Army has reported COVID-19 cases, no reports have been cited by the Indian Navy so far which currently has an operating aircraft carrier, the INS Vikramaditya.

( Image Courtesy-Indian Navy)

In terms of major crew strength, the navy has 10 destroyers, 13 frigates and 16 submarines among its over 280 assets. It is also possible that sailors on board submarines at sea may not be aware of the extent of the pandemic hitting the country because such crews are normally not privy to information which could affect morale.

For now, the Navy is assisting civil society with fighting the coronavirus crisis and the Southern Naval Command has set up facilities in Kochi and elsewhere.

The Indian Navy has also implemented a 'stay wherever you are, no travel' policy with regards to its personnel on leave or temporary duty.

Meanwhile, it is hoped, albeit with a great deal of trepidation, that the Navy does not suffer an outbreak of the likes of the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

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