Report: 26 U.S. Navy Ships Have COVID-19 Cases

Sailors disembarking from USS Theodore Roosevelt to begin quarantine in Guam (USN)

Published Apr 22, 2020 9:49 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Navy's 297-strong fleet now includes 26 vessels with coronavirus cases on board, senior officials confirmed Wednesday. 

All 26 are said to be vessels in port or in shipyard, and all (except for the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt) have a "very small number" of cases on board. The vessel names and exact case numbers for each vessel have not been released due to operational security concerns. The 90-odd warships currently at sea are believed to be coronavirus-free, but previously identified Navy warships with small numbers of coronavirus cases include USS Nimitz, USS Carl Vinson and USS Ronald Reagan. 

An additional 14 ships had past COVID-19 cases which have since been resolved, according to the report. CNN, Stars and Stripes and The Hill all confirmed the numbers in interviews with Navy officials. 

Current Navy guidance advises commanding officers that if one crewmember tests positive for the disease, it must be assumed that additional asymptomatic coronavirus cases are present on board. The guidelines requires a 14- to 21-day shipwide quarantine period and systematic compartmentalization measures to limit spread.

Service-wide, about 1,300 sailors have been infected to date, including nearly 780 crewmembers from the USS Theodore Roosevelt. This makes the Navy the most affected branch of the armed forces, driven by the outbreak aboard the carrier.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt has been docked in Guam since March 27, and the majority of her 4,800-member crew have been disembarked for shoreside quarantine while the ship undergoes disinfection. The Navy had hoped to return the Roosevelt's sailors to the ship beginning Saturday, but that plan has been pushed back because more crewmembers continue to test positive for COVID-19 - even after completing the standard 14-day quarantine period.