The number of coronavirus cases aboard the USS Kidd rose to 64 as the Navy destroyer pulled into port at San Diego on Tuesday to get medical care for the crew and to disinfect and decontaminate the ship.
The Kidd is the second Navy ship to have an outbreak of the disease while at sea, the other being the USS Theodore Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier that has been docked at Guam for a month. The Roosevelt has more than 900 sailors with confirmed cases of COVID-19, but the entire crew has now been tested.
The Navy has moved swiftly to get the Kidd's crew ashore. That was a point of contention with the Roosevelt, whose skipper, Capt. Brett Crozier, felt compelled to write to several other commanders pleading for more urgent Navy action to protect his crew of nearly 5,000. Crozier was then relieved of command for what the Navy's top civilian official at the time, Thomas Modly, called poor judgment. Modly resigned several days later, and the Navy is now seeking higher-level approval to reverse his move and restore Crozier to command.
The Navy said that 63% of the Kidd's crew of more than 300 had been tested as of Tuesday. Fifteen were transferred to another ship with a medical facility for closer observation of symptoms.
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One sailor was medically evacuated to the United States on April 22 after experiencing shortness of breath. The amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island was directed to rendezvous with the Kidd, transferring eight medical personnel from its medical facility -- along with an intensive care unit, ventilators and additional testing capacity -- to begin testing sailors for COVID-19 the following day.
Sailors being removed from the Kidd at San Diego will be isolated with twice-daily medical screenings. Crew members who have tested negative will enter quarantine for a period of observation, with military health professionals monitoring them for symptoms. Also, a small contingent of sailors who tested negative will remain on the ship for essential services and deep cleaning. The cleaning is expected to take two weeks.
"Sailors have called San Diego home for many years, and we're especially thankful for that relationship now," said Vice Adm. Richard Brown, commander of Naval Surface Forces. "Taking care of our sailors and cleaning this ship is a team effort, and we're fortunate that the partnership between the Navy and the city of San Diego is allowing us to focus on that mission."
The destroyer had been off the Pacific coast of Central America doing counter-narcotics operations. The vessel's home port is Everett, Wash., and it has a crew of more than 300.
The Navy is providing a resiliency counselor, a team of chaplains, and a psychologist for sailors in isolation and quarantine. It has also established a 24-hour roving patrol to ensure that sailors who are sequestered off-ship are adhering to all public health and safety policies.
USS Kidd sailors have been instructed to immediately report any influenza like symptoms to help prevent spread of the virus -- an important lesson the Navy learned from USS Theodore Roosevelt sailors who were quarantined in Guam, a Navy statement said.
With the Roosevelt and Kidd both in port, the Navy said no deployed ships currently have known coronavirus cases aboard. Thirteen ships that previously had one or more active cases while in port have zero cases now, the Navy said.