The crews of a Pacific-based Navy guided-missile destroyer and a Coast Guard cutter are battling separate outbreaks of COVID-19, officials said this week.
On Thursday, Navy officials confirmed an outbreak was reported among the crew of USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112).
“Personnel assigned to Michael Murphy tested positive for COVID-19, Nov. 4. In accordance with policy, we do not discuss COVID-19 numbers at the unit level,” Navy spokeswoman Cmdr. Nicole Schwegman told USNI News in a statement .“Personnel who have tested positive for COVID-19 have been placed in isolation. Out of an abundance of caution, all close contacts and non-essential crew members are undergoing a two-week self-isolation period in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guidelines.”
NBC first reported about a quarter of the sailors aboard the destroyer had tested positive for the virus.
A Navy official told USNI News that 75 percent of the crew would complete their restriction of movement period on Friday and board the ship, while the more than 70 sailors who had tested positive would continue to isolate.
The destroyer was in the basic phase of training following a maintenance period and the Navy doesn’t anticipate the delay from the outbreak will set back any future deployments.
The Navy has improved its COVID-19 response after an outbreak aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) in March sidelined the carrier for two-months in Guam.
Since then, the Navy’s procedures have evolved to quickly isolate and remove infected crew members and perform contact traces to isolate others that may have come into contact with those who test positive. The challenge is all the more difficult given the tight quarters of a destroyer.
As of Wednesday, the Navy reported about 15,000 total cases in active duty sailors since the beginning of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the California-based cutter USS Stratton (WMSL-752) returned to homeport following an outbreak of COVID-19 that infected at least 11 crew members.
The cutter was on an anti-narcotics patrol in the Eastern Pacific when the crew began developing symptoms last week.
“The affected crew members reported mild symptoms and are receiving medical care. The cutter was met by Coast Guard medical staff, who conducted testing of the entire crew,” read a statement from U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area. “Following testing, the crew went into quarantine. The cutter will continue to meet all in port watch standing requirements while at homeport.”