Hundreds of Marines Arrive in Guam to Help Virus-Stricken Carrier Crew

Sailors and Marines sterilize a building in support of USS Theodore Roosevelt
Sailors and Marines from 3rd Medical Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, sterilize a building in support of USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) sailors, April 9, 2020. (U.S. Navy photo/Julio Rivera)

Members of a Japan-based Marine Corps medical battalion are sterilizing buildings and assisting with coronavirus testing in Guam, where hundreds of sailors assigned to an aircraft carrier are recovering from COVID-19.

About 230 Marines and sailors with 3rd Medical Battalion arrived in Guam this week to support members of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt. The crew was operating in the Asia-Pacific region when members began showing coronavirus symptoms after a port call in Vietnam.

Now, at least 447 members of that crew are battling COVID-19, the sometimes-fatal disease caused by the coronavirus. One of those sailors was admitted to an intensive care unit in Guam after being found unresponsive this week.

The medical battalion falls under 3rd Marine Logistics Group, which is based about 1,400 miles from Guam in Okinawa, Japan. Photos of the unit show sailors testing members of the Roosevelt's crew for COVID-19 and Marines sanitizing cots and other equipment patients are using during quarantine on the tiny island territory.

Related: Roosevelt Sailor with COVID-19 Found Unresponsive in Guam

The ship stopped in Guam in late March after the former commanding officer, who was removed from his job, pleaded with leaders to evacuate the ship as coronavirus cases spread onboard.

The Navy announced the first three COVID-19 cases on the Roosevelt on March 24. That number quickly spiked, and in 16 days has affected nearly 10% of the crew.

Brig. Gen. Keith Reventlow, 3rd Marine Logistics Group's commanding general, said sending the medical team to Guam will help the military get back to carrying out its mission in the Pacific.

The Marines and sailors, who offer medical support during humanitarian-assistance missions and other events, were ready to deploy to Guam within 48 hours of getting the call to do so, according to a Marine Corps news release announcing the deployment.

The members of 3rd Medical Battalion are assisting more than 70 medical personnel on the Roosevelt, including corpsmen and members of the Maryland-based Biological Defense Research Directorate, which has been conducting surveillance on the carrier.

The team is operating out of Naval Base Guam. More than 3,100 members of the Roosevelt's crew have been moved off the ship.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

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