- The first few cases showed were reported last Tuesday, and since then, the number of cases on the carrier have spiked.
- "We've been working the past several days to get those sailors off the ship and to get them into accommodations in Guam," Modly said Tuesday, explaining that the challenge is finding beds for the thousands of sailors on the ship.
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The acting Navy secretary said Tuesday that the service is responding to a coronavirus outbreak aboard a deployed aircraft carrier and working to get the majority of the crew ashore so that the ship can be cleaned and disinfected.
The first few cases aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt were reported last Tuesday. Since then, the number of cases has spiked, with some outlets reporting that more than 100 sailors may have the coronavirus.
Capt. Brett Crozier, the carrier's commanding officer, wrote a letter to Navy leaders Monday warning of a worsening situation aboard the ship and urging the Navy to take decisive action to get sailors off the ship as soon as possible, the San Francisco Chronicle first reported .
"Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset our Sailors," he wrote.
Speaking to CNN Tuesday , acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly said the service is not in disagreement with the commanding officer and is working to get sailors ashore.
"We've been working the past several days to get those sailors off the ship and to get them into accommodations in Guam," he said, explaining that "the problem is that Guam doesn't have enough beds right now."
"We're having to talk to the government there to see if we can get some hotel space, or create some tent-type facilities there."
He explained that unlike a cruise ship, a Navy aircraft carrier cannot simply be emptied out entirely. There have to be people on board to manage essential systems. A Nimitz-class carrier has armaments and aircraft, nuclear reactors, and other complex systems.
"The key," he continued, "is to make sure that we can get a set of crew members that can man all those critical functions on the ship, make sure they're clean, get them back on, clean the ship, and get the other crew members off.
"That's the process we're going through. It's very methodical. We're absolutely accelerating it as we go."
The Navy is also working to test all of the roughly 5,000 sailors on the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Modly said that the initial testing capacity was 200 tests per day, which means the Navy would need around 25 days to complete the testing process.
The Navy is trying to speed that process up with additional testing support, the acting secretary said.
Modly characterized the current situation as a balancing act. "We all have one mission and that's to defend the nation. This is a unique circumstance and we're working through it," he told CNN.
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