COVID-19 pandemic on USS Theodore Roosevelt
|COVID-19 pandemic on board USS Theodore Roosevelt|
USS Theodore Roosevelt in October 2019
|Index case||Theodore Roosevelt|
|Arrival date||24 March 2020|
(2 months and 3 days)
The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic, was detected on the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in March 2020 while she was at sea. Affected crew members were evacuated and the ship was ordered to Guam. The captain, Brett Crozier, wanted most of the crew to be removed from the ship to prevent the spread of the disease, but his superiors balked. After several days Crozier e-mailed three of his superior officers and seven other Navy Captains, outlining a plan for the ship to be largely evacuated because the virus could not be contained on board. The letter leaked to the press, and the next day the Navy ordered most of the crew to be taken ashore, but the captain was relieved of command by Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly. Modly's order was controversial, and his later speech to the crew aboard Theodore Roosevelt was criticized. Modly resigned a few days later. By mid-April hundreds of crew members including Crozier had tested positive for the virus, and one had died.
In spring 2020, the United States Navy aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt was on deployment in the Pacific. The ship visited Guam on 7 February 2020, when a cruise ship was denied entry to Guam for fears of the virus. The first cases in the COVID-19 pandemic in Guam were confirmed on 15 March 2020, straining the island's ability to cope with additional cases.
On 5 March, the ship made a four-day-long port call at Da Nang, Vietnam. On the last night some sailors stayed at a hotel where two people had tested positive for COVID-19, a coronavirus disease identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness. Upon learning this, the crew were ordered back to the ship and the sailors who had stayed at the hotel were isolated. The ship did not have COVID-19 test kits at the time. The ship departed on 9 March. Over the next weeks the ship's medical team monitored the crew for any signs of infection. The sailors associated with the hotel visit were later tested negative. Samples were tested by the Navy's mobile laboratory on the ship on 19 March.
On 22 March, a first sailor tested positive. By 24 March, three further sailors of the flight crew aboard had tested positive for the virus, and the four afflicted sailors were flown to Guam, as were another five the next day.
On 30 March, the ship's commanding officer, Captain Brett Crozier, sent an unclassified email to three admirals in his chain of command, including the commander of the United States Pacific Fleet and Admiral Stuart P. Baker, the commander of Carrier Strike Group 9 and his immediate superior. The memo outlined the coronavirus outbreak aboard the ship and recommended that he be given permission to evacuate all non-essential sailors, quarantine known COVID-19 cases, and sanitize the ship. Seven captains – five aboard Theodore Roosevelt and two who are assistants to higher admirals – were copied on the e-mail.
On 1 April, the Navy ordered the aircraft carrier largely evacuated, with a skeleton crew to remain aboard the vessel to maintain the nuclear reactor, the fire-fighting equipment, the ship's galley, and a disinfection crew. About a thousand sailors were moved off the ship, partly to Naval Base Guam, and 1,700 hotel rooms were booked on Guam for TR sailors.
On 2 April, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly relieved Crozier of his command. According to Modly, Crozier had sent the letter to "20 or 30 people" and had gone outside his chain of command. However, this was not true, because Crozier had addressed and sent the letter directly to his superior, Admiral Baker.
On 5 April 2020, the Navy confirmed that 155 sailors had been infected and that 1,500 sailors had been removed from the ship, a lower number than the Navy had projected several days earlier. A closed social media group provided communication while in quarantine.
On 4–5 April, Modly traveled to Guam to visit the ship in person. On 5 April 1pm local time (11pm Washington time), he made a speech to the crew over the ship's public address system, strongly criticizing Crozier. The transcript and an audio recording of Modly's speech were subsequently leaked to the media. On 6 April, Modly apologized for the comment.
On 7 April, Modly resigned from his post. The Navy said 61% of Theodore Roosevelt's crew had been tested for COVID-19 and 173 members had tested positive, including Captain Crozier. None were hospitalized. Two thousand sailors — just under half the total crew — had been moved ashore.
On 8 April, the Navy reported that 416 crew members had tested positive for the virus, and that one quarantined sailor was hospitalized in intensive care after being found unconscious in his quarantine quarters. About 2,500 sailors remained on board.
As of 12 April, 585 crew members had tested positive.
As of 20 April, 4,069 sailors had been moved off the ship, out of the total crew of 4,500.[dubious ] Some 94% of the crew had been tested for the virus, yielding 678 positive and 3,904 negative results. As of 17 April, seven crew members were in the hospital including one in intensive care. About 60% of the people who tested positive did not have symptoms. As of 16 April, most of the ship had been cleaned. Sailors kept testing positive for the virus even after 14 days of isolation; some who tested positive had previously tested negative. The Navy temporarily suspended post-quarantine testing and extended the sailors' isolation, delaying plans to begin moves of the crew back to the carrier. Some sailors volunteered for antibody testing.
In early May sailors who had completed quarantine began returning to the ship to get her ready to sail again.
As of 5 May, 1,156 crew members have tested positive. The Navy stopped publicly reporting tallies of new coronavirus cases on the USS Theodore Roosevelt.
As of 14 May, 2,900 sailors have returned to the ship.
On 15 May five sailors on the ship developed symptoms and were found to test positive for the virus for the second time. They had previously completed a 14-day quarantine and had tested negative at least twice before being allowed to reboard. The sailors were removed from the ship along with some of their contacts. Officials said it was not clear if these cases reflect actual relapses or problems with the test.
On 21 May the USS Theodore Roosevelt entered the Philippine Sea for carrier qualification flights with 3000 sailors, leaving 1800 still in quarantine on Guam; Captain Sardiello announced that the ship would return to Guam for the remaining sailors who have successfully completed quarantine.
When the ship arrived in Guam on 26 March the ship's commanding officer, Captain Brett Crozier, wanted to have most of the crew immediately taken ashore, saying it was impossible to prevent the spread of the virus in the close quarters of the ship. Rear Adm. Stuart P. Baker, who was the commanding officer of Carrier Strike Group 9 and thus Crozier's immediate superior, disagreed, feeling such an action was impractical and too drastic.
On 30 March, Crozier sent an email to communicate the status of his ship and her crew, saying it was not possible to observe CDC/Navy recommendations for individual quarantine or social distancing aboard the carrier. Crozier referred to the viral spread on the less crowded cruise ship Diamond Princess as an example of how quickly a virus can spread on a crowded vessel. The letter provided his superiors with options, including ready for battle while sick, but recommended most of the crew's evacuation, keeping only enough crew on board to maintain the nuclear reactor, provide security, and to sanitize the ship. The e-mail was sent to three superior officers in his chain of command, including his direct superior, Rear Admiral Baker, and was copied to seven captains – five of whom were aboard the Roosevelt, the other two of whom were executive assistants to the admirals. The letter was leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle, which published it the next day.
Relieving Crozier of command and aftermath
On 2 April, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly relieved Crozier of his command for sending the request for assistance over non-secure email to a "broad array of people" rather than up the chain of command, adding that Crozier "allowed the complexity of the challenge of the COVID breakout on the ship to overwhelm his ability to act professionally". Crozier will remain in the Navy and retain his rank. As Crozier disembarked, sailors were seen chanting "Cap-tain Cro-zier" in a video posted to Twitter captioned "Wrongfully relieved of command but did right by the sailors."
|U.S. Department of Defense briefing with Navy Secretary Modly in which he announces the relief of Capt. Crozier from his duty as the captain of the Theodore Roosevelt, April 2, 2020, C-SPAN|
Modly claimed that Crozier had sent a "blast out email to anybody who he knows about the situation" and even "copied [the email] to 20 or 30 other people." The Washington Post subsequently obtained the e-mail and found that it had been sent to only 10 people, all Navy admirals or captains.
Reaction to Crozier's dismissal was mixed. A Wall Street Journal story reported that on "Capitol Hill and inside the Pentagon, lawmakers and officials reacted with confusion and anger over the dismissal" of Crozier. A joint statement from four Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee, including the committee chair, Representative Adam Smith (D-WA), criticized Crozier's conduct, saying that "Captain Crozier was justifiably concerned about the health and safety of his crew, but he did not handle the immense pressure appropriately. However, relieving him of his command is an overreaction." President Trump also criticized Crozier's letter on 4 April saying that it was "not appropriate."
Modly, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday each defended the decision to remove Crozier, although Gilday and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had earlier advised Modly not to do it until a Navy investigation into the matter had been completed. Modly added that there was no White House pressure when the decision was made to remove Crozier.
On 6 April Modly traveled 8,000 miles (13,000 km) to Guam on a Navy executive jet; the trip was later reported to have cost taxpayers at least $243,000. He visited the ship and spoke to the crew over the ship's public address system. He began by blaming the Chinese government for worsening the outbreak by not revealing how bad the disease was. He continued by criticizing Crozier as "too naïve or too stupid to be a commanding officer" if he did not realize that his letter would be leaked to the media. Modly also scolded the ship's crew for cheering their captain as Crozier departed the ship. The transcript and an audio recording of Modly's speech was immediately leaked and widely criticized. Senator Tim Kaine stated, "It's deeply disappointing that he would deliver a speech on board a U.S. aircraft carrier suggesting that Captain Crozier might be 'stupid'." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Representative Elaine Luria called for the removal of Modly, with Luria, a Navy veteran, saying he was "in no way fit" to lead the Navy. Representative Jackie Speier, chairperson of the Armed Services Committee's panel on military personnel, also criticized the trip. In the evening, the same day as he made the speech, Modly apologized for the comment. The next day, 7 April, he resigned his position.
On 24 April, Gilday and acting Navy secretary James McPherson recommended to Secretary Esper that Crozier be reinstated.
On 13 April the first fatality among the sailors from the ship, a 41-year-old chief petty officer, was announced. Charles Thacker Jr. was the first active-duty member of the U.S. military to die of COVID-19.
Number of confirmed cases
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) during the COVID-19 pandemic.|
- "USS Theodore Roosevelt skipper says carrier won't wait for all sailors to clear quarantine before going back to sea". Stars and Stripes. 5 May 2020. Archived from the original on 16 May 2020. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
Since then, at least 1,156 sailors have tested positive, one of whom died. The Navy on Friday stopped publicly reporting daily tallies of new coronavirus cases among the Roosevelt crew.
- Peniston, Bradley (13 April 2020). "The Battle of USS Theodore Roosevelt: a Timeline". Defense One. Archived from the original on 11 April 2020.
- Guam COVID-19 Joint Information Center (7 February 2020). "Administration Denies Entry of Potentially-Infected Vessel" (PDF). Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
- Sablan, Jerick (7 February 2020). "Guam denies entry to ship over coronavirus concerns". Pacific Daily News. Retrieved 9 February 2020.
- Kaur, Anumita (15 March 2020). "Governor: 3 on Guam confirmed positive for COVID-19". Pacific Daily News. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
- "Guam Locals Unhappy With Housing U.S. Sailors From Coronavirus-Hit Aircraft Carrier". NPR.org. 2 April 2020. Archived from the original on 16 April 2020.
- Mabeus, Courtney (11 April 2020). "How an Island Oasis Became the Navy's Coronavirus Epicenter". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020.
- "'There Will Be Losses': How a Captain's Plea Exposed a Rift in the Military". The New York Times. 13 April 2020. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
- Simkin, J.D. (16 April 2020). "COVID-19 outbreak on Theodore Roosevelt sparked by flight crews, officials believe". Navy Times. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
- Eckstein, Megan (26 March 2020). "UPDATED: USS Theodore Roosevelt Quarantines Sailors on Guam as Coronavirus Outbreak Spreads". USNI News. Archived from the original on 11 April 2020.
- Vanden Brook, Tom (24 March 2020). "Three sailors from USS Theodore Roosevelt have coronavirus, raising concerns about pandemic's strain on military". USA Today. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
- "4 sailors with COVID-19 evacuated from USS Theodore Roosevelt to Guam". Pacific Daily News. 25 March 2020. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
- Brook, Tom Vanden. "Eight sailors from USS Theodore Roosevelt have coronavirus, raising concerns about pandemic's strain on military". USA TODAY.
- Peniston, Bradley (31 March 2020). "US Navy Evacuating Aircraft Carrier Infected by Coronavirus". Defense One. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
- Lamothe, Dan; Boburg, Shawn (16 April 2020). "How an outbreak on the USS Theodore Roosevelt became a defining moment for the U.S. military". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
- Cohn, Lindsay; Friend, Alice; Golby, Jim. "This is what was so unusual about the U.S. Navy making Captain Brett Crozier step down—Members of the military can face multiple, sometimes competing, loyalties". The Washington Post. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
- Schogol, Jeff (31 March 2020). "Navy captain says COVID-19 is spreading through his aircraft carrier so rapidly that most of the crew needs to get off". Task & Purpose. Archived from the original on 6 April 2020.
- Gafni, Matthias; Garofoli, Joe (31 March 2020). "Exclusive: Captain of aircraft carrier with growing coronavirus outbreak pleads for help from Navy". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
- Genier, MCSN Kaylianna; Roosevelt, USS Theodore (21 April 2020). "Staying connected, staying Theodore Roosevelt strong". www.cpf.navy.mil.
We needed a surrogate communication environment which was safe, informative, supportive and effective at establishing two way communication in both a military hierarchical structure but also a flat collaborative we-are-all-in-this-together manner. For us the first step was a closed Facebook page. Sailors have been very active and have taken full advantage of this new page and all it has to offer.
- "Press Briefing with Acting Secretary Thomas B. Modly and Admiral Michael Gilday" (PDF). Pentagon Briefing Room, The Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia. 1 April 2020. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 April 2020.
- Kube, Courtney; Gains, Mosheh (2 April 2020). "Navy relieves captain who raised alarm about coronavirus outbreak on aircraft carrier". NBC News. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
- Gallagher, Sean (6 April 2020). "Aircraft carrier captain lost his command because of "Catch-22" COVID-19 dilemma". Ars Technica. Archived from the original on 7 April 2020.
- Ruiz, Michael (4 April 2020). "155 sailors on USS Theodore Roosevelt test positive for coronavirus, 42 percent of all Navy infections". Fox News. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
- Cooper, Helene (7 April 2020). "Blistering Reprimand from Navy Secretary". The New York Times. p. A11.
- Peniston, Bradley; Weisgerber, Marcus (17 April 2020). "Inside the Wild Final Week of the Acting Navy Secretary". Defense One.
- Larison, Daniel (6 April 2020). "After Crozier Comments, Navy Secretary Modly Must Resign". The American Conservative. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
- Casiano, Louis; Aaro, David (7 April 2020). "Trump hints that he may get involved in Navy episode as Modly issues apology". Fox News. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
- Borger, Julian (7 April 2020). "US navy official apologises for calling captain behind coronavirus memo 'naive or stupid'". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
- Pickrell, Ryan (9 April 2020). "A USS Theodore Roosevelt sailor with coronavirus was taken to the ICU as the number of cases on the aircraft carrier rises". Business Insider. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
- Holmes, Aaron (11 April 2020). "100 more sailors from the USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for coronavirus, making up 75% of the Navy's total cases worldwide". Business Insider. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
- McNamara, Audrey (11 April 2020). "Coronavirus cases on USS Theodore Roosevelt spike to 550". CBS. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
- Seligman, Lara (13 April 2020). "Sailor from USS Theodore Roosevelt dies of coronavirus". Politico.com. Archived from the original on 7 May 2020. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
- "Navy Sailor Assigned to USS Theodore Roosevelt Dies of COVID-Related Complications". www.navy.mil. Archived from the original on 16 May 2020.
At approximately 8:30 a.m., Apr. 9 (local date), the Sailor was found unresponsive during a daily medical check. While Naval Base Guam emergency responders were notified, CPR was administered by fellow Sailors and onsite medical team in the house. The Sailor was transferred to U.S. Naval Hospital Guam where the Sailor was moved to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The Sailor was declared deceased April 13.
- Lara Seligman, Sailors keep testing positive on aircraft carrier, despite 2-week isolation, Politico (April 21, 2020).
- Dyer, Andrew (17 April 2020). "Seven carrier sailors in hospital with COVID-19 as Navy seeks 1,000 crew volunteers for study". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
- Phil Stewart, Idrees Ali (16 April 2020). "Coronavirus clue? Most cases aboard U.S. aircraft carrier are symptom-free". Reuters. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020.
The findings are of enormous interest because the proportion of people who are asymptomatic is just simply not known
- "USS Theodore Roosevelt's Clean Fight". www.navy.mil. 16 April 2020.
- Public Affairs, USS Theodore Roosevelt (24 April 2020). "Theodore Roosevelt Sailors volunteer to support public health outbreak investigation". www.cpf.navy.mil.
- "Sailors on sidelined USS Theodore Roosevelt get virus for second time". Associated Press. 15 May 2020. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
- Associated Press (21 May 2020) USS Theodore Roosevelt back at sea after coronavirus outbreak
- "Restriction of Movement (ROM) guidance. Navy mitigation measures in response to Novel Coronavirus outbreak". NAVADMIN. 11 March 2020. Archived from the original on 31 March 2020.
- "Request for assistance in response to COVID-19 pandemic" (PDF). 29 March 2020. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
- "Request of assistance in response to pandemic on USS Theodore Roosevelt, by Captain Brett E. Crozier (text)". Voltaire Network. 30 March 2020.
- Rocklöv, J.; Sjödin, H.; Wilder-Smith, A. "COVID-19 outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship: estimating the epidemic potential and effectiveness of public health countermeasures". Journal of Travel Medicine. doi:10.1093/jtm/taaa030. Archived from the original on 3 March 2020. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
The cruise ship conditions clearly amplified an already highly transmissible disease. The public health measures prevented more than 2000 additional cases compared to no interventions. However, evacuating all passengers and crew early on in the outbreak would have prevented many more passengers and crew from infection.
- Return Crozier to the Roosevelt, Restore Faith in the Navy. Guy Snodgrass, United States Naval Institute. April 17, 2020
- Griffith, Janelle (3 April 2020). "Videos show sailors cheering Navy captain relieved of command after raising alarm on coronavirus". NBC News.
- Choi, David (2 April 2020). "'Not acceptable': Navy claims it fired the captain dealing with coronavirus outbreak for sending 'blast out' email to at least 20 people with 'unclassified' system". Business Insider. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
- Youssef, Nancy A.; Lubold, Gordon (3 April 2020). "Captain Fired by Navy Gets Rousing Farewell from Sailors". The Wall Street Journal.
- Welna, David. "After Outcry Over Navy Captain Relieved Of Command, Assurances He Won't Be Expelled". npr.org. National Public Radio, Inc.
- Feuer, William (4 April 2020). "Trump says Navy captain letter asking for help on coronavirus-stricken ship 'was terrible'". CNBC. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
- Kheel, Rebecca (2 April 2020). "Aircraft carrier captain removed from duty after pleading for help with coronavirus outbreak". The Hill. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
- Cole, Devan (5 April 2020). "Esper defends removing USS Theodore Roosevelt commander who sounded alarm over coronavirus". CNN. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
- "Navy May Reinstate Fired Captain to Command of Roosevelt". The New York Times. 16 April 2020. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
- Lamothe, Dan (8 April 2020). "Trip to Guam at center of top Navy official's resignation cost taxpayers over $243,000". The Washington Post. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
- Ismay, John; Ziezulewicz, Geoff (6 April 2020). "Acting Navy Secretary Slams Fired Captain as 'Stupid'". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
- "Kaine Statement On Secretary Modly's Speech Aboard The USS Roosevelt | U.S. Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia". www.kaine.senate.gov. 6 April 2020. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
- "U.S. Navy morale dives after firing of virus-riddled ship's captain". Big News Network.com. 8 April 2020. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
- Brook, Tom Vanden (8 April 2020). "Cost of Navy secretary's trip to Guam? $243,000, his job and isolation after coronavirus exposure". USA TODAY. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
- Lubold, Gordon. "Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly Resigns in Wake of USS Roosevelt Comments". The Wall Street Journal.
- O'Connor, Lydia (24 April 2020). "Navy Says Captain Ousted For Coronavirus Warning Should Be Reinstated: Reports". HuffPost. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
- "First Active-Duty Navy Sailor to Die From COVID-19 Is Chief Petty Officer From Stricken Aircraft Carrier". Time. Associated Press. 16 April 2020. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
- "Navy Sailor Dies in Guam After Virus Outbreak Aboard Carrier" Bloomberg.com