Ahead of deployment, Bremerton-based aircraft carrier takes pandemic precautions
The USS Nimitz is one of the country's 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, and it's homeported in Bremerton. It's expected to set out to sea in the near future.
Last week, a top Pentagon official said there had been "small breakouts" of the novel coronavirus on the ship. The Navy quickly refuted that.
To help us understand exactly what's happening aboard the Nimitz, KNKX's Ed Ronco spoke with Josh Farley, who covers military affairs for the Kitsap Sun.
On the health of the Nimitz crew: “The information that I was getting from the Navy suggested there were not cases on board. The Navy has been steadfast in reporting that. They mentioned one person had shown symptoms but their testing had been inconclusive, and then there was another Nimitz sailor who was out of the area and did test positive. So the stories have gotten straight, at least yesterday when Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said there were no cases on board the Nimitz.”
On precautions aboard ship: “They’re taking every precaution they can. There’s no question the crews have had to adapt. For instance, when the guidance came from (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) to wear cloth masks, the crew repurposed its standard-issue brown T-shirts and tied them around their faces for protection. But it is a very uncertain time, and I think given (USS Theodore Roosevelt) Capt. Crozier’s dismissal, the captains of our Navy vessels … face immense pressure to perform. The same goes true for Capt. Max Clark, who is the commanding officer of the 1975-commissioned USS Nimitz.”
On the mood in Bremerton: “When you quarantine a Navy ship like what the Nimitz is doing, families don’t have as much time together as when they’re in port. I think there’s quite a bit of anxiety given the work that has to continue, and of course the sailors that are serving. Of those I’ve talked to, both on the Nimitz and the USS Carl Vinson … I’ve heard that. It’s hard to control the rumor mills with regard to how many cases there are. The hope is everybody’s doing everything they can to wash their hands and not contract this virus.”