2021-April-17 19:18
2021-February-27  15:50

Two US Navy Warships Are Struck by Coronavirus Outbreaks While Deployed in Middle East

TEHRAN (FNA)- Two US Navy warships operating in the Middle East have been struck by coronavirus outbreaks, authorities said Friday, with both returning to port in Middle East.

A dozen troops aboard the USS San Diego, an amphibious transport dock, tested positive for COVID-19, said Commander Rebecca Rebarich, a spokeswoman for the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet. 

The guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea also has "confirmed several cases of COVID-19", she said.

"All positive cases have been isolated on board, and the (ships) remains in a restricted COVID bubble," Rebarich told The Associated Press. 

"The port visit and medical support have been coordinated with the host nation government and Bahrain Ministry of Health," she added.

The San Diego sails with nearly 600 sailors and Marines aboard, while the Philippine Sea carries some 380 sailors.

The 5th Fleet patrols the waterways of the Mideast. 

The Navy's largest outbreak so far in the pandemic was aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, which had to be sidelined in Guam for nearly two months last year. 

More than 1,000 sailors tested positive and one died. 

Eventually all of the 4,800 crew members were sent ashore in Guam for weeks of quarantine, in a systematic progression that kept enough sailors on the ship to keep it secure and running.

The failure of the ship's leaders to properly handle the outbreak exploded into one of the biggest military leadership crises in recent years. 

The ship's captain, Brett Crozier, who pleaded for faster action to protect his crew from the rapidly spreading virus, was fired and the one-star admiral on the ship had his promotion delayed.

Adm. Mike Gilday, the chief of naval operations, concluded after a lengthy review that both men made serious errors in judgment.

The carrier returned to duty about three months after it docked in Guam and then returned home to the West Coast. 

Other ships that have been underway or at their home ports over the past year have had smaller numbers of sailors test positive, but none have had such a major outbreak.

The Roosevelt has been out on deployment in the Pacific in recent weeks, and about a week ago conducted dual carrier exercises with the USS Nimitz, which is returning home to the West Coast from a lengthy deployment in the Middle East.

Earlier this month, three sailors tested positive as the aircraft carrier was conducting operations in the Pacific. 

The sailors and those exposed to them were isolated, and the Navy said it is "following an aggressive mitigation strategy", including masks, social distancing, and proper handwashing and hygiene measures.

In a statement released after the recent positive cases, the Navy said it was "following an aggressive mitigation strategy", including masks, social distancing, and proper handwashing and hygiene measures. 

"US Pacific Fleet is committed to taking every measure possible to protect the health of our force," the fleet said in the statement.