At Apra Harbor, USS Roosevelt's Crew Make Progress in COVID-19 Fight

Disinfecting a berthing area aboard USS Roosevelt (USN)

Published Apr 16, 2020 2:01 PM by The Maritime Executive

At Naval Base Guam, the crew of the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is hard at work on a new challenge: disinfecting their ship. Nearly 600 crewmembers from Roosevelt have tested positive for COVID-19, and the majority of the crew has been disembarked in order to enable quarantine and cleaning procedures. 

The ship's leadership (excluding former commanding officer Capt. Brett Crozier) has a battle plan to deal with the outbreak. Capt. Dan Keeler, the ship's XO, established a response command center akin to damage control central for a vessel casualty. Cmdr. Jennifer Huck, the combat direction center officer, was appointed as the initial officer in charge. "We have two tasks, taking care of Sailors and cleaning the ship," said Cmdr. Huck. "We have already started and are about finished."

Sanitizing the ship has become an all hands effort, including a roving cleaning team that is constantly transiting the ship, cleaning along the way. Each day begins and ends with what the crew calls "bleach-a-palooza."

The cleaning task force is led by Cmdr. Chad Hollinger, the carrier's weapons officer, who has earned the nickname "Mr. Clean," and Master Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Patrick Maxie, the weapons department's top enlisted officer. "The team's mission is to fully sanitize the ship," said Cmdr. Hollinger. "To complete the mission we are going to clean this ship from top-to-bottom and forward-to-aft to create a clean zone for everyone coming back to the ship, so we can get back to business."

"We hit the virus with chemicals we know will kill it, and after that space is clean, we seal it off," said Maxie. " To protect [sailors] from the cleaning solution and the virus, our teams are required to wear goggles, gloves, face shields, and coveralls while cleaning. Once they enter a space they go through with tough wipes, rags and cleaning spray and then go back through with a disinfectant or bleach solution." Large-area sprayers help get the job done quickly in larger berthing spaces and mess decks. 

"We have cleaned over 2,000 spaces so far and have cleaned over 80 percent of the ship," said Cmdr. Hollinger. " It hasn't been easy; it's hard work, but we are fighting through it. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and we are going to get there."