WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Navy has 26 warships with confirmed coronavirus cases aboard, a service official confirmed on Wednesday. However, the military leadership insists that the combat readiness of the United States Navy “has not deteriorated” despite the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The 26 ships are all in port and each has a very small number of cases aboard”, the official told The Hill.
Another 14 US Navy vessels have had COVID-19 cases in the past but the infected service members have since recovered. Out of the United States Navy’s 297 active duty warships, there are currently 90 at sea with no reported coronavirus cases, USN officials reported.
CNN first reported on the affected ships, which the US Navy is not naming. The service also will not release the number of total cases across the vessels due to the Department the Defense policy put in place late last month to withhold such numbers, citing operational security concerns.
More than 3,500 (officially, a total of 3,578) US service members have tested positive for the virus as of Wednesday morning, according to information released by the Department of Defense. Those numbers include two deaths, 85 hospitalized individuals, and 1,073 recovered service members.
The United States Navy makes up roughly a third of the officially reported number at 1,298 cases, with more than half, or 776 of those, from the outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier. In order to attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the US Navy docked the aircraft carrier in Guam in late March and moved ashore more than 4,000 of the ship’s 4,800-person crew.
The US Navy’s service members were set to begin to return to the USS Theodore Roosevelt later this week after a 14-day quarantine period concluded, but the Navy put that move on hold after more than 100 previously asymptomatic sailors tested positive on the coronavirus.