Two U.S. Navy Ships in Middle East with Coronavirus Outbreaks Ordered Back to Port

The USS Philippine Sea is one of two Navy vessels in the Middle East ordered back to port due to outbreaks of the coronavirus among their crew. Photo by Richard Rosser/UPI/U.S. Navy | License Photo
Richard Rosser/UPI/U.S. Navy

(UPI) — Two U.S. Navy ships in the Middle East have been ordered into port as they combat outbreaks of COVID-19, the U.S. Navy said early Friday.

The U.S. 5th Fleet revealed that about a dozen service members aboard the amphibious transport dock USS San Diego have tested positive for the virus, and that the vessel has already pulled into port in Bahrain.

“All positive cases have been isolated on board, and the ship remains in a restricted COVID bubble,” 5th Fleet said in a statement. “The port visit and medical support have been coordinated with the host nation government and Bahrain Ministry of Health.”

The second vessel, the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea, is still out at sea with “several persons under investigation” but was heading back to port to conduct further testing of all those who have been possibly exposed, the 5th Fleet said, adding the location of the port was not disclosed due to operational safety.

“Medical health professionals are conducting a thorough contact investigation to determine the source of COVID-19 aboard the ships and whether any other personnel may have been exposed,” it said.

Those identified as coming into contact with a positive case have been isolated and measures are being followed in accordance with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Navy guidelines and the Bahrain Ministry of health.

The announcement was made days after the Navy said Chief Hull Technician Justin Huf, 39, died on Monday of COVID-19-related complications. He was assigned to Assault Craft Unit 4 based in Little Creek, Va.

Last summer, the USS Theodore Roosevelt suffered from a COVID-19 outbreak that infected one-fifth of its 4,800 crew, resulting in one death.

According to Navy data, as of Feb. 17 more than 53,500 people in the Navy have contracted the virus, nearly 32,000 of whom are military personnel.


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