Danish Navy Patrol Vessel Ordered Back to Base due to COVID Outbreak

HDMS Thetis (file image courtesy Cavernia / CC SA 4.0

Published Dec 15, 2020 2:38 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Royal Danish Navy patrol vessel HDMS Thetis has been ordered back to base in order to address an onboard outbreak of COVID-19. 

Thetis was on patrol in the North Sea, and shortly before arriving at the Faroe Islands port of Klaksvig on Saturday, the ship's physician identified one positive case of coronavirus on board. Thetis' commanding officer ordered testing for the entire crew upon arrival in Klaksvig, and nine people returned positive test results. 

The nine positive cases were quickly isolated, and seven crewmembers who shared spaces with them were quarantined. 

To assure the best possible response to the outbreak, Denmark's Arctic Command and its Navy ordered Thetis to pause her operations and return to port at Frederikshavn, a two day voyage from the Faroe Islands. Thetis will be thoroughly decontaminated with the goal of returning her to patrol service in the North Atlantic as quickly as possible. 

"It is unfortunate but not unexpected that COVID-19 is also disrupting our operations, just as it has affected the rest of society. We have not previously had COVID-19 on board our ships in the North Atlantic. In the specific situation, it makes the best sense to take the ship and crew home, so we can take care of the situation here," said Rear Admiral Torben Mikkelsen, the head of Denmark's Navy.

COVID-19 outbreaks have proven challenging to control in communal living environments, including high-occupancy vessel classes like cruise ships and warships. The U.S. Navy's top officer, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, wrote in a memo in October that more than 190 of the service's vessels - well over half the fleet - had experienced at least one case of coronavirus since the pandemic began, including two ships (USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Kidd) that sustained serious outbreaks affecting a significant fraction of the crew.