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The captain of a US nuclear aircraft carrier where more than 100 sailors have tested positive for coronavirus issued a rare SOS to Navy brass — asking to quarantine his entire crew to contain the spread of the disease, according to a report.
Navy Capt. Brett Crozier of the USS Theodore Roosevelt — which is docked off the coast of Guam — sent a four-page letter to officials Monday asking for “quarantine rooms” on shore for his crew of more than 4,000, the San Francisco Chronicle first reported.
“This will require a political solution but it is the right thing to do,” Crozier wrote. “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 said only a small portion of his crew has been taken off board as confirmed cases started popping up.
Most remain on board and in tight quarters — and attempts to socially distance and step up cleaning schedules are not slowing the spread of the virus, the captain’s letter states.
“Due to a warship’s inherent limitations of space, we are not doing this,” Crozier wrote. “The spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating.”
Crozier proposed to keep 10 percent of his crew on board the Teddy Roosevelt to mind the nuclear power plant, maintain operations and mount a response to an emergency.
Last week, Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly announced that three sailors aboard the vessel had tested positive for the bug, marking the first confirmed cases among at-sea Navy personnel.
A senior crew member aboard the Teddy Roosevelt told the Chronicle that since then, the number had grown to more than 150 sailors.
In a statement to the New York Times, a Navy official acknowledged that Pacific fleet leadership had received Crozier’s letter.
“Navy leadership is moving quickly to take all necessary measures to ensure the health and safety of the crew of USS Theodore Roosevelt, and is pursuing options to address the concerns raised by the commanding officer,” the statement reads.
Lawrence Korb, a retired Navy captain and a former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, told the Chronicle that it is “very unusual” for a ship’s captain to issue a letter like Crozier’s — as they are typically on the career track to becoming admiral.
“It shows that this is a person who is putting the welfare of his sailors ahead of his career,” Korb said.
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