A sailor assigned to the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the Navy ship at the center of a controversy that led to the resignation of Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, died Monday from coronavirus-related complications, military officials announced.
The sailor, whose identity was withheld upon notification of family, is the first reported coronavirus death on the aircraft carrier. The sailor had tested positive on March 30 and was admitted Thursday to U.S. Naval Hospital Guam’s intensive care unit after being found unresponsive. The Navy said other sailors had attempted CPR.
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“Like other Sailors in isolation, he received medical checks twice daily from Navy medical teams,” the Navy said in a news release.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper added in a statement that the Pentagon is “deeply saddened by the loss” and “we remain committed to protecting our personnel and their families while continuing to assist in defeating this outbreak.”
Other details about the sailor were not immediately available. The sailor’s coronavirus-related death is the first of an active-duty service member of the U.S. military, and follows that of a New Jersey National Guardsman who died from COVID-19 complications in March.
The Roosevelt has been docked in Guam, a small island in the Pacific Ocean and an unincorporated territory of the United States, since March 27 for a scheduled port visit for resupply and crew rest.
At least 550 crew members who were aboard the ship tested positive for COVID-19 more than a week after its captain, Brett Crozier, was relieved of duty on April 2 for sounding the alarm about an outbreak on the Roosevelt in a letter leaked to the press.
The Navy last week said that 92 percent of its roughly 4,800-member crew have been tested for COVID-19, with more than 3,600 of them getting back negative results.
Modly initially ridiculed Crozier for his remarks about the growing coronavirus outbreak on the ship, and moved to oust the captain. Upon his dismissal, however, sailors gave Crozier, who had taken command of the Roosevelt last November, a hero’s send-off.
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Modly then traveled from Washington to Guam on April 6, offering stinging remarks about Crozier broadcast over the Roosevelt’s loudspeakers and later leaked publicly. The acting Navy secretary accused Crozier of a “betrayal of trust” and said he was either “too naive or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this.”
His words drew criticism from lawmakers and disapproval from President Donald Trump, and Modly apologized to Crozier before submitting his own resignation last Tuesday.
“I believe, precisely because he is not naive and stupid, that he sent his alarming email with the intention of getting it into the public domain in an effort to draw public attention to the situation on his ship,” Modly said in a statement.