WASHINGTON, D.C. – The number of United States Navy sailors tested positive for the coronavirus on the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier has surged to 155 within the past 24 hours, the US Navy confirmed amid the sacking of its captain for publicizing the debacle.
The Navy further declared in a Saturday statement that 44 percent of the warship’s 5,000-strong service members had been tested and 1,548 of them were transferred ashore, noting that none of the infected sailors have been hospitalized, American News reported. It did not elaborate on the conditions of those that have so far tested positive for the highly-contagious virus.
The aircraft carrier’s Captain Brett Crozier was relieved of his command of the Theodore Roosevelt on Thursday after the public leak of a contemptuous letter in which he urged the US Navy to take stronger action in efforts to contain the spread of the virus aboard the nuclear-powered warship.
In the letter, which was published by The San Francisco Chronicle and caught the Navy by surprise, Crozier described how bleak the situation was onboard the carrier as more sailors were diagnosed with the virus. He further stated in his memo to the Navy’s Pacific Fleet that the warship lacked sufficient quarantine and isolation facilities, warning the current strategy would slow but fail to eliminate the virus.
US Navy’s acting Secretary Thomas Modly then announced in a Thursday briefing that Crozier had been “relieved of command”, explaining that the captain had allowed “the complexity of his challenge with the COVID-19 breakout on the ship to overwhelm his ability to act professionally when acting professionally was what was needed the most at the time”.
The fallout from the Navy’s firing of Crozier is growing, however, as Democrats in both chambers of the US Congress called on Friday for a probe into his dismissal as well as the coronavirus outbreak on board the warship. This is while sailors on the warship cheered for their departing captain on Thursday night as he was relieved from duty by the US military.
US President Donald Trump has stated that he supports the decision to remove Crozier over the captain’s email regarding the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Here we have one of the greatest ships in the world … with thousands and thousands of people and you had about 120 that were infected and I guess the captain stopped in Vietnam and people got off in Vietnam, perhaps you don’t do that in the middle of the pandemic,” Trump said at the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing on Saturday.
“They made their decision, I didn’t make the decision, the Secretary of Defense was involved and a lot of people were involved. I thought it was terrible what he did, to write a letter? This isn’t a class of literature,” Trump told reporters.
He stressed that the captain could have called and made certain suggestions but it was inappropriate for him to send a letter and to stop in Vietnam, where sailors got off the ship and then ended up being infected.
“I thought it was inappropriate for the captain of a ship … I agree with their decision 100 percent,” Trump added.