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Four USS Theodore Roosevelt Sailors Taken to Hospital

Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Tavish Davis with 3rd Medical Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, tests a Sailor assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) for symptoms of COVID-19, on Naval Base Guam.
Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Tavish Davis with 3rd Medical Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, tests a Sailor assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) for symptoms of COVID-19, on Naval Base Guam.

By The Maritime Executive 04-14-2020 09:28:51

As of April 14, 9 percent of USS Theodore Roosevelt crewmembers have been tested for COVID-19, with four now moved to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Guam. One is in the Intensive Care Unit due to shortness of breath.

To date, 589 Sailors from the aircraft carrier have tested positive and 3,922 have tested negative. 4,024 Sailors have moved ashore and one has died.

The management of the crew has caused controversy. Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly resigned earlier this month after a recording of his speech to the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt was made public. Modly had relieved the vessel's Commanding Officer, Captain Brett Crozier, of duty, and in justifying his actions to the crew he indicated that Crozier might be too naive or stupid to command an aircraft carrier. 

Crozier wrote and distributed a letter calling for help and asking for 4,000 members of the carrier's crew to be disembarked in Guam, thereby reducing the potential that they might be exposed to the COVID-19 virus. Crozier warned that effective isolation of known cases and quarantine of suspected contacts aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt was impossible. According to Modly, the letter was sent via unsecured email to about 20 recipients, and it was subsequently leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle which he claimed published sensitive information about a warship. Modly claimed Crozier should have expected that the letter would be leaked, as it was sent to so many people.

The U.S. Navy now tallies COVID-19 1,208 cases.

On April 13, the Navy offered leadership tips for dealing with the “new enemy” - “a silent enemy invading quickly, threatening our security and way of life in ways we never imagined.”

The tips cite the late Rear Adm. Grace Hopper, a Navy information systems pioneer who stayed on active duty until age 79. “You don’t manage people, you manage things. You lead people.”

The tips are:

Stay Connected

Connecting with others helps prevent people from feeling isolated and alone. Have regular phone or virtual meetings to provide structure and stability while strengthening your team’s sense of community and shared purpose. Consider keeping a constant dialog with group texts or video chat. Check in regularly with all team members but don’t forget to check in with your own leaders.

Share Information

Regularly sharing information establishes communication and trust with your team and is a key part of keeping everyone connected. Whether in meetings or not, stay updated on the latest developments in your command and be prepared to communicate where your team fits into the picture.

As often as possible, keep your team updated.  Encourage questions and when you don’t know something, promise and deliver answers as quickly as possible. Always remember that regular communication creates trust with your team. A communication vacuum does the opposite.

Recognize Limits and Normalize Stress

We are operating in uncharted waters these days and that can be stressful on individuals and groups. Too much stress can diminish your team’s ability to process complex information and perform.

Remember there are individual differences in how people cope with stress, so don’t be afraid to talk about it and encourage your teams to talk about their stress, if necessary. Don’t be afraid to step back and take a breath and encourage your teams to do the same.

Build Physical and Mental Resilience

When working from home it is easy to forgo normal routines since we are no longer kept to a regular schedule and don’t have the mental transition period that usually comes with the daily commute.  Keeping a regular routine for eating, sleeping and exercising can help people feel a little closer to normal.  When people take care of themselves physically and mentally, they can handle stress better.

Control the Controllable

Reduce stress and save energy by focusing efforts on what can be controlled and accepting what cannot. Simply put, know when to fight and when to let go. Encourage your team members to identify what they can control and, in any situation, encourage things like deep breathing and mindfulness when things start to feel out of control.

Seize the Moment

Responding in times of crisis and helping determine the outcome is what teams live for. Leaders can reframe this moment in time as an opportunity for the entire team to contribute to the shared mission of finding solutions for tough problems. Remind your team of the importance of the mission at hand. Vocally acknowledge that everyone has an essential role to play, no matter their rank.

Take the Long View

Though no one wants bad things to happen, being part of the response when the chips are down is why many join the military or choose public service. Capitalize on that fact. Pace yourself and your team for a marathon, as no one knows how long this battle will take. Using the long view will help to manage the expectations of yourself and your team.