COVID-19 Outbreak Aboard Destroyer USS Kidd

Crewmembers aboard USS Kidd making improvised facemasks (USN / USS Kidd)

Published Apr 24, 2020 5:25 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Navy has confirmed that 18 sailors assigned to the destroyer USS Kidd have tested positive for COVID-19. The first confirmed case was an individual who was diagnosed Thursday after medevac to the United States for treatment. 

At the time of the outbreak, USS Kidd was operating in the U.S. Fourth Fleet area of operations (Southern Command). According to the vessel's social media feed, she was tasked with supporting Joint Interagency Task Force South, the multi-national, multi-agency drug interdiction campaign in the Eastern Pacific and Caribbean.

Within 24 hours of this positive COVID-19 test, the Navy deployed a medical team to the ship to conduct contact tracing and additional onsite testing. As of Friday morning, 17 additional USS Kidd sailors have tested positive. Testing continues, and the Navy expects that additional cases will be found. 

The sailor who was medevaced is receiving care at a medical treatment facility in San Antonio, Texas. “The first patient transported is already improving and will self-isolate. We are taking every precaution to ensure we identify, isolate, and prevent any further spread onboard the ship,” said Rear Admiral Don Gabrielson, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet. 

"The Navy pulled out all the stops - specialist doctors have already arrived from the United States to test and help care for our shipmates. Morale is high, and the crew is in good spirits. We did fly one sailor back to the U.S. and he has already been cleared to self-isolate. In the meantime, our number one priority remains the safety of our fantastic crew, and we have what we need onboard," said USS Kidd's XO in a statement on the ship's Facebook page. 

The ship will now return to port where the crew will continue to clean and disinfect the vessel, observing CDC and Navy protocol. Continuing onboard test results will inform further operational decisions, the Navy said.

“They will remove a portion of the crew from the ship and work to get everybody back to health and get the ship back to sea," Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters on Friday. 

The outbreak aboard USS Kidd is the second reported for a U.S. warship under way, following the incident aboard the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. As of Thursday, 850 sailors out of Roosevelt's 4,800-strong crew have tested positive for the virus. The carrier is now moored in Guam for an extensive quarantine and disinfection process.

At least two dozen additional Navy vessels have experienced cases while in port, according to officials.