Another Navy warship at sea reports a coronavirus outbreak

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FILE- In this Jan. 12, 2012 file photo, a U.S. Navy sailor is seen by the American flag during a change-of-command ceremony Taboard the destroyer USS Kidd docked in Muharraq, Bahrain. The Navy says another warship at sea has reported a coronavirus outbreak and is returning to port. In a written statement, the Navy said Friday at least 17 members of the crew of the USS Kidd have tested positive for the virus. The destroyer was operating in the Caribbean Sea. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Another Navy ship at sea has reported a coronavirus outbreak and is returning to port, the Navy said Friday.

Navy officials said at least 18 members of the crew of a destroyer, the USS Kidd, have tested positive and it expects the number to grow. It said it is evaluating the extent of the outbreak aboard the ship.

The Kidd is off the Pacific coast of Central America, where it has been operating as part of a U.S. counter-drug mission. The Navy said it has a crew of about 350. It is only the second Navy ship, among about 90 deployed around the world, to report a coronavirus outbreak at sea. The other is the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

One sailor who displayed symptoms was flown off the Kidd on Thursday to a medical facility at San Antonio, where he tested positive for the virus.

After the positive case was confirmed at San Antonio, the Navy deployed a specialized medical team to the ship to conduct contact tracing and additional onsite testing.

“The first patient transported is already improving and will self-isolate. We are taking every precaution to ensure we identify, isolate, and prevent any further spread onboard the ship,” said Rear Admiral Don Gabrielson, commander U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet. “Our medical team continues coordinating with the ship and our focus is the safety and well-being of every Sailor.”

The Navy said the ship will return to port, where the crew will continue to clean and disinfect the ship, observing protocols in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Navy-specific guidelines.

The Navy continues to struggle with a coronavirus outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier that is docked in Guam and has more than 800 confirmed virus cases.

Asked whether the Pentagon fears that the Kidd may become another Roosevelt crisis, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, Jonathan Hoffman, said the Navy acted quickly once learning of the first symptomatic sailor aboard the Kidd.

“The Navy has lessons learned from prior experience with a COVID crisis, and they have been quickly applying those to this case,” Hoffman said. “Fingers crossed, the Navy is doing everything they can right now, and we’re going to hope for the best outcome, but they are going to take all of the prudent steps that they possibly can.”

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