The USS Harry S Truman and its strike group are somewhere off the East Coast of the United States. But its 4,500 member crew can’t go home – the aircraft carrier is a “clean ship,” which means it has no cases of COVID-19 aboard. And as such, it has readiness capability that some other ships do not have, so must stay at sea until the pandemic drops. (meaww)
“The ship is entering a period in which it needs to be ready to respond and deploy at any time. Normally we can do that pierside, but in the face of [the coronavirus pandemic], we need to protect our most valuable asset, our people, by keeping the ship out to sea,” Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, commander, 2nd Fleet.
The USS Harry S Truman has been deployed since November and has been at open sea, so have not encountered the virus in ports of call. Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark Esper stated there are at least 90 other US ships in the world’s oceans. It was thinly veiled warning to enemies that trying to take advantage of the Theodore Roosevelt and the Navy’s coronavirus troubles would not be a good idea.
— Archive: Dr. Mark T. Esper (@EsperDoD) April 17, 2020
The USS Theodore Roosevelt put to port in Vietnam before having cases of COVID-19 run rampant through the ship, leaving hundreds of sailors infected and one dead. At least two dozen other ships have infected personnel. The Navy, as of April 17, had 1,017 positive tests (USNI). Hence, the crew of the Truman and its strike group will remain out to sea and safe from the pandemic for now.
It’s hard on families to be this close to home and not be able to do anything about it, according to a Reuters article.
“Captain Kavon “Hak” Hakimzadeh and members of his crew described to Reuters in exclusive interviews the mixed emotions of being so close to home, but too precious to pull into port, as the Truman settles into a pandemic-driven operational limbo.
“This is a really weird situation for us,” Hakimzadeh told Reuters by phone, the only way to speak to anyone on board given a ban on visitors.
The crew members interviewed said they understood why the Truman needed to remain offshore to ensure combat readiness. The virus ripped through another carrier, the Theodore Roosevelt, infecting more than 1,100 sailors.
The hope is that once the Nimitz aircraft carrier strike group is up and running, the Truman can finally come home. But with the coronavirus proving dangerous and the world being unpredictable, the Navy doesn’t want to put a date on the Truman’s return.”
So for now, one sailor’s wedding in October may be on hold. Others who have family members who have died, involved in the coronavirus fight, or those who have children, will have to wait. As we’ve previously reported, The USS Nimitz Strike group is docked in Western Washington, and currently preparing to deploy.
Featured Photo: April 7, 2020, the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman is seen from a P-8A Poseidon aircraft assigned to Patrol Squadron (VP) 4 during a maritime domain awareness mission over the Strait of Gibraltar. Juan Sua, US Navy