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USS Milwaukee Back in Sea After COVID-19 Outbreak

Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) departs Naval Station Guantanamo, Jan. 3, 2022. US Navy Photo

Littoral Combat Ship USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) is back at sea after it was kept pier side in Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, following a COVID-19 outbreak. Milwaukee returned to sea on Monday after approximately 15 days in port.

A portion of the crew, which was 100 percent vaccinated, tested positive for COVID-19, USNI News previously reported. A Navy press release Monday night did not specify how many members of the crew tested positive. A Navy official told USNI News last week about a third of the crew of about 95 had contracted the virus.

It is also not clear what variant affected the crew or if any of the sailors aboard had received vaccine booster shots. The Department of Defense now recommends anyone 18 and older receive a booster shot, consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.

Sailors aboard Milwaukee were given the opportunity to receive the booster shot while in port at Guantanamo Bay, according to the release.

The dominant variant worldwide is currently omicron, which has spread through the United States leading up to the holidays. While the severity of the variant is still unclear, it is affecting those who have been vaccinated, including those with booster shots. Hospitalizations are also on the rise as the country deals with health care staffing problems.

The Navy was the first service to experience an outbreak when members of USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) contracted the disease. A sailor died in the outbreak.

Three sailors on Theodore Roosevelt tested positive in February, after the outbreak, leading to widespread testing, but no additional cases were detected.

Sailors on USS Philippine Sea (CG-58) and USS San Diego (LPD-22) had approximately 40 cases between the two ships, also in February.

Milwaukee deployed on Dec. 14 for a regularly scheduled deployment into U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations. It will support the Joint Interagency Task Force South’s mission, according to the release.