- By Sagar Shere April 02, 2020
The U.S. aircraft carrier captain who is infected by the coronavirus is pleading with Navy officials for help to stem the spread of the disease aboard the ship, which is now docked in Guam.
In a memo obtained and published Tuesday by the San Francisco Chronicle, Capt. Brett Crozier, commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, warned of dire consequences if the majority of the crew is not taken off the ship and isolated.
"This will require a political solution, but it is the right thing to do," Crozier wrote about finding individualized lodging for crew members. "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."
Asked by The Hill for comment on the memo, a Navy official said in a statement that Crozier "alerted leadership in the Pacific Fleet on Sunday evening of continuing challenges in isolating the virus."
"The ship's commanding officer advocated for housing more members of the crew in facilities that allow for better isolation," the statement said. "Navy leadership is moving quickly to take all necessary measures to ensure the health and safety of the crew of USS Theodore Roosevelt, and is pursuing options to address the concerns raised by the commanding officer."
"The problem is that Guam doesn't have enough beds right now, and so we're having to talk to the government there to see if we can get some hotel space, create some tent-type facilities there," Modly said.
"But we don't disagree with the [commanding officer] on that ship, and we're doing it in a very methodical way because it's not the same as a cruise ship," he continued. "I mean, that ship has armaments on it. It has aircraft on it. We have to be able to fight fires if there are fires on board the ship. We have to run a nuclear power plant."
The Navy first confirmed positive coronavirus cases aboard the Roosevelt a week ago, and on Thursday, officials announced the ship would dock in Guam while all 4,000-plus people aboard are tested for COVID-19.
A senior officer on board the ship told the Chronicle that 150 to 200 sailors had tested positive as of Monday.
The carrier was last in port in mid-March in Danang, Vietnam. At the time, Vietnam had 16 confirmed cases of COVID-19.