Home/Daniel Larison/‘The Letter Worked’: Carrier Crew to Be Quarantined on Guam

‘The Letter Worked’: Carrier Crew to Be Quarantined on Guam

The letter from Capt. Brett Crozier requesting the evacuation of most of the crew from the Theodore Roosevelt on account of the coronavirus outbreak on board appears to have been successful in getting the Navy to address the problem:

The U.S. Navy took action Tuesday to address the deteriorating situation aboard a nuclear aircraft carrier docked in Guam with coronavirus spreading aboard, promising to isolate crew members ashore for rotating quarantine and possibly move many into hotels within 24 hours.

Crew members speaking to The Chronicle praised their outspoken commanding officer, who aired the dire situation in a stark letter Monday addressed to Navy command and first reported Tuesday by The Chronicle. They reiterated his concerns that it is impossible to properly quarantine sailors on board the Theodore Roosevelt and stop the spread of COVID-19. A senior officer told The Chronicle more than 100 sailors had tested positive in less than a week.

U.S. Pacific Fleet Adm. John Aquilino said Tuesday that the Navy is developing plans to get a number of sailors off the ship “as soon as possible” and to quarantine them in appropriate, isolated shelters on Guam. There is little infrastructure available, he said, so the effort includes asking the local government for spare hotels.

According to the report, the sailors will be evacuated in rotating shifts so that one group will stay on Guam under 14-day quarantine while the other remains on the ship, and then after the quarantined group is cleared following testing they will switch places. The captain’s recommendations appear to have been taken seriously:

A sailor aboard the Roosevelt said Tuesday the crew was briefed and told the plan was to move a large number of sailors to hotels for individual quarantine within the next 24 hours. A smaller crew would need to remain aboard the ship on “ready status.”

“The letter worked,” the sailor said.

As you would expect, the captain’s letter went over very well with the crew:

The letter also appeared to be a hit aboard the ship, as family members began sharing Tuesday on social media The Chronicle’s article, which included a copy of the correspondence.

“My reaction to the letter was totally, ‘Freakin’-A man, this Captain really cares!!!’” a Navy officer aboard the Roosevelt told The Chronicle on Tuesday. “I then went into my military mode and started to think that having a Captain stand up ‘to The Man’ was a very bold move that could either hurt or help him when it comes to advancing to the rank of Admiral.”

Another Roosevelt sailor, who has been placed on one of the group quarantines, saw a copy of Crozier’s letter from a friend.

“Stunning letter,” the sailor told The Chronicle. “Felt as if there was someone with our best interests in mind. Don’t see that much. It’s usually mission first.”

Between the two shifts, it will keep the carrier docked at Guam for the next month. That seems an acceptable delay when the alternative would mean risking the health and lives of the crew. Despite Secretary Esper’s dismissive comments last night, it appears that the Navy is doing the responsible thing to ensure the health and safety of the sailors on board the carrier. The captain deserves enormous credit for making sure that this happened, and he has saved the lives of many of his sailors.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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