Sailors aboard the San Diego-based USS Theodore Roosevelt are cleaning the ship to keep fellow sailors safe as they hope to return the ship to sea.
The crew has cleaned up to 80% of the ship, as sanitizing has become an all-hands effort. A roving team is constantly transitioning the ship and cleaning along the way, the Navy said.
"It's an all-hands effort, and everyone is trying their best. Supply and medical work hand-in-hand to monitor every department on the ship to make sure they're cleaning twice a day. If they want to clean after hours, we support that as well," said one of the sailors responsible for controlling, mixing, and issuing cleaning solutions to the crew.
The cleaning task force is led by Cmdr. Chad Hollinger, Theodore Roosevelt's weapon's officer, who the Navy says the crew has begun calling him "Mr. Clean," and Master Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Patrick Maxie, Theodore Roosevelt's weapons department leading chief petty officer.
"The team's mission is to sanitize the ship fully," said Hollinger. "To complete the mission, we are going to clean this ship from top-to-bottom and forward-to-aft to create a clean zone for everyone coming back to the ship so that we can get back to business."
To protect the sailors from the cleaning solution and the virus, the Navy said they are required to wear Personal Protective Equipment while cleaning. Once the sailors enter a space, they go through with "tough, wipes, rags and cleaning spray and then go back through with a disinfectant or bleach solution."
The team uses the sprayers in spaces without large machinery or electrical equipment. With this equipment, the team can cover a large area, such as a mess deck, in a third of the time it would take to do by hand, the Navy said.
"We have cleaned over 2,000 spaces so far and have cleaned over 80% of the ship," said Hollinger. "I couldn't be more proud to take on the task of leading this team, and I couldn't have asked for a better team to get this done."
This week, Aviation Ordnanceman Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker Jr., 41, of Fort Smith, Arkansas, died on April 13 at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Guam of COVID-19.
Thacker was the first active-duty military member to die of COVID-19, among the crew of about 4,860, of which 585 had tested positive for coronavirus as of April 13.
While the crew cleans the ship, the first round of Sailors that left after testing positive for the virus is completing their recovery, said Capt. Carlos Sardiello, Theodore Roosevelt's commanding officer.
"It's a journey, but supporting each other is how we get through this," said Sardiello. "We are extremely thankful for the overwhelming support from the local government here on Guam, in cooperation with Joint Region Marianas in the fight against COVID-19."