SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — In a new report from the Department of Defense, a failure in leadership and to implement infectious disease protocols fueled the spread of the coronavirus aboard the San Diego-based USS Theodore Roosevelt last year.
The report claims the COVID-19 outbreak was attributed to several lapses in following mitigation measures, including:
- USS Theodore Roosevelt leadership didn't implement mitigation measures for crew members;
- Leadership allowed social gathering areas to remain open;
- Leadership performed urinalysis testing for illegal substances that should've been considered non-essential during the outbreak; and
- Sailors were prematurely released from quarantine because of crowding and leadership believed quarantining cause more sailors to become infected;
"According to the Navy’s Command Investigation Concerning Chain of Command Actions with Regard to COVID-19 Onboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), these decisions likely resulted in infection to a larger portion of the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt," the report stated.
The first COVID-19 case aboard the aircraft carrier was reported on March 24, 2020. The vessel spent 174 days on deployment to the Indo-Pacific region, during which time more than 1,100 sailors were infected with the virus. One sailor, 41-year-old Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Charles Thacker, died due to the virus.
More than half of the USS Theodore Roosevelt's roughly 5,000-person crew was taken off the ship in Guam in March while the ship was cleaned and sanitized. The ship's commanding officer, Capt. Brett Crozier, was removed from command after leaking a letter requesting help from Navy leadership as the outbreak began.
The DOD's report went on to say that the mitigation protocols used on the USS Kidd, which reported its first COVID-19 case on April 22, 2020, may lead to the development of best practices to address planning, logistics, and response to a pandemic event.