- By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
4 Covid-19 positive sailors flown to Guam
More than 20 sailors aboard the carrier are from Guam
Four sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt deployed in the Pacific Sea tested positive for Covid-19 and have been flown off the aircraft carrier and brought to Guam, the Joint Region Marianas said.
"On March 25, sailors with test results indicative of coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) were medically evacuated from USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) to Guam," JRM said.
A source told the Pacific Island Times that the carrier, carrying 6,000 people, is scheduled to arrive on Guam on Friday. "Those on board will be quarantined and no one will be allowed to leave the carrier," the source said.
"Due to operational security concerns, we do not discuss future ship movements or port visits," LCDR Rick Moore, public affairs officer at Joint Region Marianas, said in an email to Pacific Island Times.
Port Authority of Guam general manager Rory Respicio said PAG has not been informed of the carrier's arrival. "It's all on the Navy side," he said.
Initial information from the Pentagon and the White House identified only three sailors who tested positive and that they were to be flown to Los Angeles.
"The four sailors were taken to U.S. Naval Hospital Guam for evaluation and treatment.Surveillance testing of the four sailors conducted March 24 was indicative of COVID-19," JRM said in a press release.
On Tuesday, a spokesman for the Naval Hospital Guam announced four patients tested positive for Covid-19 but later in the day, JRM retracted the statement, saying it was "inaccurate."
In a new release today, JRM said the sailors were isolated in accordance with CDC guidelines until the sailors could be flown off the ship.
According a news release from the Commander US Pacific Fleet last month, more than 20 sailors currently aboard Theodore Roosevelt are from Guam, "including Air Traffic Controller 1st class Jolyn Sannicolas. Those sailors were given the opportunity to depart the ship first and reunite with their families."
"Joint Region Marianas has been working in cooperation with the Government of Guam to ensure proper advance notification of the patients' arrival on Guam," JRM said.
"The patients will be treated at U.S. Naval Hospital Guam and will be isolated at U.S. Naval Base Guam in accordance with CDC protocols.U.S. Pacific Fleet is committed to taking every measure possible to protect the health of our force, to prevent the spread of the virus, and to ensure continued cooperation with the government of Guam in our COVID-19 response."
At the Pentagon, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly told defense reporters that it was first reported instance of coronavirus infections abroad a U.S. Navy ship at sea. The service said no cases have appeared aboard submarines to date.
USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) is the fourth Nimitz-class nuclear powered aircraft carrier in the U.S. Navy.
Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday said the carrier's last port call was in Danang, Vietnam, about 15 days ago, at a time when Vietnam had 16 covid-19 cases in the north of the country, away from Danang.
"The move to go ahead with the port call appeared to be 'an informed decision' at the time," Bloomberg reported, quoting Gilday.
The Navy has identified all crew members who were in touch with the three infected sailors and has them under quarantine, according to Modly.
There is no plan to pull the ship ashore, Gilday told reporters.
USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and guided missile destroyer USS Pinckney (DDG 91) arrived in Guam for a port visit on Feb. 7.
"While in Guam, Theodore Roosevelt and Pinckney are planning to conduct multiple community relations projects, shipboard tours and sporting events. Sailors will also have the chance to experience highlights of the area and local sights through tours organized by the ships’ Morale, Welfare, and Recreation programs," according to Commander US Pacific Fleet's website.
Theodore Roosevelt and Pinckney, part of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, left their homeport of San Diego, Calif., Jan. 17 for a regularly-scheduled deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.