Politics

Aircraft carrier captain pleads for help after more than 100 crew are infected with coronavirus

Key Points
  • The captain of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier that has more than 100 cases of coronavirus wrote a stunning plea for help to senior military officials.
  • "We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors," wrote Capt. Brett Crozier of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which is now docked in Guam.
  • Fifteen days after a port call to Vietnam, three sailors from the USS Roosevelt tested positive for the virus. The infections were the first reports of coronavirus on a vessel at sea.
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Aircraft carrier captain sends plea for help after 100 sailors infected with coronavirus

WASHINGTON — The captain of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier that has more than 100 cases of coronavirus wrote a stunning plea for help to senior military officials. 

In a four-page letter, first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, Capt. Brett Crozier of the USS Theodore Roosevelt described a disastrous situation unfolding aboard the warship, a temporary home to more than 4,000 crew members.

"We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors," Crozier wrote. "The spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating."

He proposed offloading the majority of the crew, quarantining those infected, testing others for the virus and professionally cleaning the ship. He explained in his letter that by keeping the crew on the vessel the Pentagon was taking "an unnecessary risk" that "breaks faith with those Sailors entrusted to our care."

Read more: Coronavirus cases in the military are probably more widespread than known, Pentagon says

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt is seen while entering into the port in Da Nang, Vietnam, March 5, 2020.
Kham | Reuters

The latest revelation of the coronavirus exposure aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which is currently docked in Guam, follows a recently completed port call to Da Nang, Vietnam. 

Fifteen days after leaving Vietnam, three sailors from the USS Roosevelt tested positive for the virus. The infections were the first reports of coronavirus on a vessel at sea.

Last week, Thomas Modly, the acting Navy secretary, told reporters at the Pentagon that the trio of sailors and those who had been in contact with the individuals were identified and quarantined.

And while port calls for U.S. Navy ships have since been canceled, Modly defended the decision to complete the port call by saying that at the time, the coronavirus cases in Vietnam were less than 100.

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USNS Comfort arrives in Manhattan as makeshift hospitals come to NYC
VIDEO2:0102:01
USNS Comfort arrives in Manhattan as makeshift hospitals come to NYC