More than Half the Navy's Coronavirus Cases Are on the Carrier Theodore Roosevelt

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Seabees coordinate transportation of sailors from the USS Roosevelt to commercial lodging.
Seabees coordinate transportation of sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) who have tested negative for COVID-19 and are asymptomatic from Naval Base Guam to commercial lodging. (U.S. Navy/Chief Mass Communication Specialist Matthew R. White)

Nearly 300 sailors on the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, the Navy announced less than a week after that ship's commanding officer was removed from his job over the way he warned superiors about the health crisis.

As of Wednesday, 286 members of the Roosevelt's crew have COVID-19. That makes up more than half of the Navy's 548 COVID-19 cases in the ranks, the highest among the military branches.

The Navy's handling of the health situation on the carrier led to a week of chaos that ultimately unseated the service's top civilian leader, former Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly.

Modly removed the Roosevelt's commanding officer, Capt. Brett Crozier, last week. Crozier had sent a four-page letter to Navy leaders -- and some outside the chain of his command -- raising serious concerns about the spread of coronavirus cases on the ship.

Related: Modly's Final Message to the Fleet: 'I Lost Situational Awareness'

Many aboard the Roosevelt saw Crozier as a hero who was looking out for his crew. Modly said Crozier put his crew at risk by allowing sensitive information about a deployed carrier's readiness level to go public.

Modly has since resigned as acting Navy secretary after addressing the Roosevelt's crew in the wake of Crozier's relief. Modly disparaged their former skipper, saying his decision to send the letter warning about COVID-19 cases publicly made him "too naïve or too stupid" to command the ship.

Almost all of the Roosevelt's nearly 5,000 crew members have now been tested for COVID-19, according to Navy statistics on the disease, which has caused a global pandemic. Results for 2,874 of the COVID-19 tests have been completed.

More than 2,300 members of the Roosevelt's crew have moved ashore in Guam. That's nearly 400 people short of the 2,700 that Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said the Navy wanted to move off the ship by the end of last week.

Crozier, in the letter that was later published by the San Francisco Chronicle, called for all but 10% of the nearly 5,000-person crew to be taken off the ship while it was disinfected. The captain said it was impossible to have enough social distancing onboard to stem the spread of the virus.

He warned that if leaders did nothing, it could cost lives.

"We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die," he wrote. "If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset -- our Sailors."

Crozier is one of the Roosevelt crew members who has tested positive for the illness.

The Roosevelt isn't the only Navy carrier dealing with COVID-19 cases. A sailor last week tested positive for the disease on the supercarrier Nimitz, which is preparing to deploy.

There are also cases on the carriers Ronald Reagan and Carl Vinson.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

Read more: Nimitz Becomes 4th Aircraft Carrier with COVID-19 Case: Report

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