U.S. Destroyer, Cutter Suffer COVID-19 Outbreaks in Pacific

November 19, 2020 6:15 PM
Sailors man the rails as the guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112) passes Battleship Missouri Memorial during the official ceremony for the 75th Commemoration of the End of WWII on Sept. 2, 2020. US Navy Photo

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.

The U.S. Coast Guard Legend-class cutter USCGC Stratton (WMSL-752), left, and the U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG-85) maneuver into formation during Talisman Sabre 2019. US Navy photo.

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.”

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
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