'Clean' warship USS Harry S Truman to be held offshore indefinitely to protect crew from coronavirus
At a time when the US Navy has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic and the preparedness of the force has come under question, authorities have decided to keep those ships that have not been hit yet by the pandemic away at sea indefinitely in order to protect them. The indefinite deployment could not only leave the sailors jaded but also heighten their anxiety over the state of their families on shore where COVID-19 has wreaked havoc. Over 1.1 million people have been affected by the virus in the US while over 64,000 have died -- more than the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam War.
According to an exclusive report by Reuters that came out on Friday, May 1, aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman is free from coronavirus attack because of its longer deployment at sea since last November. The battle-ready crew of 4,500 has remained out of reach of the pandemic and could remain deployed indefinitely, keeping the sailors away from their families. “Its crew would love to come home to their families. But they can’t. They’re just too valuable right now,” the report added.
The "clean" warship’s captain, Kavon “Hak” Hakimzadeh, along with his crew described to Reuters over phone their emotional state since they are too close to the port but yet can’t get to see their loved ones. Truman can be seen off the Atlantic coast on any given day, between Virginia and Florida.
Truman’s crew members though understood the situation from the Navy’s point of view. As the other big carrier -- USS Theodore Roosevelt -- got hit by the pandemic, Truman needed to be battle-ready in case any situation arises. The vessel’s members are hoping that Roosevelt recovers fast so that they can get to return home. But the Navy doesn’t yet want to set up a deadline of Truman’s return to the port since there is no certainty over when the outbreak comes under control, the report added.
Besides Roosevelt, other aircraft carriers like USS Ronald Reagan, USS Carl Vinson and USS Nimitz have also been hit by the outbreak on board. The Roosevelt has been particularly hit with more than 1,100 sailors testing positive for COVID-19. The issue led to a major controversy recently as the captain of the ship, Brett Crozier, was sacked after he wrote to various quarters seeking help, irking the authorities. The Reuters report cited US officials to say more than two dozen warships with crew members having infections while at port.
Truman's situation reminds of 'The Last Ship' TV series
The situation of a ship stuck indefinitely at sea because of a pandemic wreaking havoc on the land reminded many of the TV series (2014-18) named ‘The Last Ship’. “In a world awash with dark Hollywood dramas, one television show that’s been popular among the Truman crew is “The Last Ship.” It imagined a US Navy destroyer that was at sea, in radio silence, when a deadly pandemic devastated the world. Senior Chief Petty Officer Kevin Dublynn said one of his shipmates had mentioned it to him. “He felt like, ‘Oh, man. This is just like ‘The Last Ship’ show,’” Dublynn said. “I was like, ‘No, it’s not,’” the report said, adding that Dublynn was not in agreement since the reality sees the Navy has many other ships deployed at sea.
Earlier this week, the guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd arrived in San Diego with at least 78 active cases of COVID-19 on board out of a total crew of 330, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
Meanwhile, China, which has found itself at odds with the US over the origin of the pandemic, is glad that its rival is facing more challenges militarily because of the outbreak which would see it gaining more strategic dominance.
Last month, China’s state-run Global Times reported about the People’s Liberation Army boasting over its own immunity against the pandemic, claiming that it has done a great job in tackling the crisis. A Chinese naval flotilla headed into the Pacific in April led by the country’s indigenous aircraft-carrier Liaoning and sources in Japan and Taiwan, two of Beijing’s rivals in the region, were cited in the report.