Navy ships at sea are safest places against COVID-19, Esper says

Navy ships at sea are safest places against COVID-19, Esper says

Defense Secretary Mark Esper during a recent Pentagon briefing (DoD photo)

WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the safest place to be in the Navy to ward off COVID-19 is aboard a Navy ship at sea.

Esper offered that analysis during a Monday webinar hosted by the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C. think tank. He said those on ships in ports face far more a threat from COVID-19 than those on ships.

That is despite the fact that crews on at least 29 ships are battling COVID-19, as well as the Navy having the flagship of COVID-19 cases in the enire military: the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

“Statistics show the safest place to be is on a deployed Navy ship as compared to one that’s in port,” Esper said. “Of the 90-plus ships we have at sea we only have two that have been affected.Two ships out of I think 94 is a pretty good record.”

The Navy and the Pentagon have ceased providing numbers of infected troops on ships and on deployment, citing security concerns.

Esper made his comments when discussing the USS Kidd, the second high profile COVID-19 ship. He said the outbreak on that destroyer may have been picked up through a counter-narcotics operation.

The USS Kidd had been operating off the South and Central American coasts. It is now in port in San Diego to be cleaned. The Navy became aware of the outbreak aboard the Kidd last month after a sailor needed to be medically evacuated to a treatment facility in San Antonio, Texas.

At least 50 sailors aboard the USS Kidd have tested positive for COVID-19. That number is from last week before the Navy ceased providing the data.

More than 1,000 abroad the USS Theodore Roosevelt carrier tested positive for COVID-19. That is near the total number reported by the Army on Monday of 1,032 cases, followed by the Marine Corps at 428 cases and the Air Force at 388.

As of Monday, the Navy had 2,062 COVID-19 cases.

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