By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Covid-stricken UK carrier strike group coming to Guam
Updated: Aug 2, 2021
Ships from the UK’s Carrier Strike Group, led by the coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, are coming to Guam "in the next couple of weeks" to participate in the ongoing military exercises in the region, an air force official confirmed Sunday.
“We are looking forward to that operation because it’s UK and US forces working together and bringing that sort of compatibility to the region,” Brig. Gen. Jeremy T. Sloane, commander of the 36th Wing, Andersen Air Force Base, said during a virtual press conference.
The Royal Navy’s 5th generation Carrier Strike Group performed an exercise with the Republic of Singapore Navy on July 26.
British military officials earlier confirmed an outbreak of Covid-19 on the UK Navy’s flagship with 3,700 sailors. The BBC has reported that there have been around 100 cases on the aircraft carrier, which is on a 28-week deployment.
“With regard to the safety, this is not the first time we’ve done something like this,” Sloane said.
Last year, the Covid-19 outbreak onboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier ultimately infected more than 1,200 sailors. The aircraft carrier moored in Guam for a month and the sailors were placed in quarantine in Tumon hotels.
“Obviously, tremendous support from the community with regard to the Teddy Roosevelt was brought in and supported the unit at a scale it had to operate and kept that control and safe so that there wasn’t any follow on transmission across the island”
Knowledgeable sources said sailors on the British carrier will be allowed liberty while on Guam.
Sloane said the HMS Queen Elizabeth is expected to be more manageable.
“In this case, the cases’ numbers have been very small in comparison,” Sloane said. “So, we got plans in place to make sure that we keep those folks isolated and well away from the population that might be vulnerable.”