U.S. Navy Submariner Dies of COVID-19

USS Tennessee at the Trident Repair Facility in Kings Bay, Feb. 4 (USN)

Published Feb 4, 2021 9:45 PM by The Maritime Executive

A sailor assigned to the nuclear ballistic missile submarine USS Tennessee died from complications related to COVID-19 on Thursday. 

According to the U.S. Navy, the sailor was admitted to the Naval Air Station Jacksonville Hospital on January 30, then transferred to the ICU at the University of Florida Hospital in Jacksonville the following day. The sailor was in the ICU at the time of death.

The name of the deceased is being withheld until after next-of-kin have been notified.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, shipmates and friends of the sailor during this extremely difficult time," the Navy said in a statement. 

The individual was assigned to the submarine's Blue Crew, and the Navy has not released information on whether any shipmates were affected by the disease. USS Tennessee is starting a long refit and modernization period at a drydock at Kings Bay, Georgia, according to a separate statement released Thursday. 

To date, the Navy has sustained about 30,000 COVID cases service-wide. More than 190 Navy vessels have experienced at least one case, according to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday, but social distancing, testing, cleaning and quarantine protocols have managed to keep the disease under control in all but a few instances. 

"In the majority of [shipboard] cases, aggressive early action to isolate, quarantine, contact trace, and continue strict health protection mitigation measures has contained the incidence rate on board to well less than five percent, allowing those ships to 'fight through' and remain on mission," wrote Adm. Gilday. 

To date, only two active-duty Navy sailors have died of coronavirus; the service's only other victim was Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker Jr., 41, who passed away last April after the outbreak aboard the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. 

Across all branches of the military, about 140,000 servicemembers have contracted the disease since the beginning of the pandemic. Only 19 servicemembers have died - a small fraction of the 450,000 deaths recorded in the U.S. population at large.