Another Pearl Harbor destroyer has had a COVID-19 outbreak.
Cmdr. Sean Robertson, a spokesman for the Navy’s 3rd Fleet, said about a dozen personnel assigned to USS Chafee, now in San Diego, tested positive for coronavirus and are off the ship. The destroyer has a crew of about 350.
“Individuals who were in close contact with those sailors are also off the ship and are in quarantine while they monitor for any symptoms,” Robertson said Friday. “The ship remains able to meet its mission.”
No Chafee sailors have been hospitalized and all positives are in isolation, he said.
“To reassure sailors and their families, all Chafee sailors will be tested today,” Robertson said. He added, “We’re looking to take care of the crew.”
The update follows a Navy Times story in which some crew members raised concern that the mission to San Diego for Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training, or SWATT, which started earlier this month, was taking precedent over the coronavirus outbreak.
“While some of the crew have been tested, there is no plan to test the entire crew at this time,” an unidentified sailor aboard Chafee told Navy Times in a story that ran Thursday.
That apparently has changed with the plan now for all-crew testing.
The sailor, who didn’t want to be identified for fear of retribution, said several of the ship’s cooks tested positive for COVID-19 during the transit from Hawaii. The ship arrived for training last Saturday, according to the publication.
“Before pulling into San Diego, we had seven people in quarantine and three tested positive,” the sailor told Navy Times.
The galley had been shut down for over a week and food was being delivered to the ship. The gym was closed and sailors weren’t allowed to go on the pier. Morale was taking a hit, Navy Times reported. It’s not clear when the Chafee will return to Hawaii.
In November, nearly a quarter of the crew of the Pearl Harbor destroyer USS Michael Murphy tested positive for COVID-19.
The ship was doing local operations but was in port when the virus was detected. A caretaker crew that tested negative maintained basic functions on the destroyer.
There were no hospitalizations after a Nov. 4 confirmation of coronavirus, the Navy said at the time.
An official said then that “out of an abundance of caution,” all close contacts and non-essential crew members were undergoing a two-week self-isolation period in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guidelines.
Additionally, several cases of COVID-19 occurred on the Pearl Harbor destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer.
The number of overall COVID-19 cases within Hawaii’s military community was “a little below 7%” of the state’s total since March, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command reported in November.
Military cases are reported within the daily state totals, but a military breakdown is not made public, with the Pentagon claiming doing so could telegraph to foes which of its forces were hard hit.
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