Small COVID Outbreak Reported Aboard Spanish Navy's Flagship

juan carlos i
The Spanish Navy amphib/light carrier Juan Carlos I (U.S. Navy file image)

Published Dec 16, 2021 5:43 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Spanish Navy's flagship, the big-deck amphib Juan Carlos I, has canceled two planned port calls after discovering a symptomatic case of COVID-19 on board. One individual has tested positive, and 16 close contacts have been placed in isolation. The individual with a confirmed infection "presented mild symptoms compatible with COVID-19" on Tuesday, according to the service. 

Juan Carlos I is under way on a training exercise in the Mediterranean, and her strike group will continue its participation in the planned event, including live-fire training against surface targets. Previously-scheduled port calls in Melilla and Ceuta have been canceled. 

The service noted that it has a hospital facility on board and can conduct aerial medevac operations quickly if needed. 

The Spanish Navy patrol boat Infanta Cristina sustained a larger-scale outbreak in late November, according to Spanish outlet La Verdad. At the time, the vessel was returning from a two-week presence mission off the coast of the Chafarinas Islands, a disputed territory occupied by Spain and claimed by Morocco. Testing confirmed 35 positive cases on board the small vessel, and the remaining 43 members of the crew were placed in isolation. All of the crewmembers were vaccinated, and only mild symptoms were reported.  

In January - before vaccines were widely available - the Spanish Navy research vessel Hesperides sustained one fatality after a COVID outbreak swept through the crew. The vessel was forced to halt its mission after five days of sailing and divert to the Canary Islands for quarantine and treatment. One crewmember, 1st Sgt. Francisco Rodriguez Sanchez, was hospitalized with symptoms after the ship returned to homeport in Cartagena, and he died of the infection at the end of February.

On her latest Antarctic mission, Hesperides will operate in full quarantine for more than 150 days to minimize risk of infection, and all 59 members of her crew have received three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.