Just one day after the Navy downplayed the pleas from the captain of the carrier Roosevelt, they have now decided to evacuate 2,700 from the vessel, leaving only a skeleton crew aboard.
The carrier has been docked in Guam due to a COVID-19 outbreak that has experienced exponential growth in the number of confirmed infections. On March 24th, three sailors tested positive for the coronavirus and were immediately evacuated. The number of infected as of today is 93.
The mass evacuation is a 180 degree change of policy compared to what the Navy said yesterday. Captain Brett Crozier pleaded, “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die,” as he suggested an immediate evacuation of all but a skeleton crew to maintain the reactor and sanitize the ship.
The Pacific Fleet commander Aquilino claimed Cozier's requests were not possible, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper said just last night, “I don’t think we are at that point.” Today, they are doing exactly as Cozier suggested.
The Navy is now working with the local government to secure isolation and quarantine sites in Guam. Over a thousand sailors have already been evacuated and the rest are to be removed in the next few days.
The following video produced by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kelsey Hockenberger shows the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) transiting Apra Harbor to moor in Guam on Feb. 7, 2020.