Twenty-five percent of the USS Theodore Roosevelt's crew turned up positive for the virus, and one crew member died.
A heavily redacted report by the Inspector General's office of the U.S. Department of Defense has critical words for the Navy and the leadership of the San Diego-based USS Theodore Roosevelt, one of two warships to suffer severe outbreaks of Covid-19 last year.
"As of August 1, 2020, the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and the destroyer USS Kidd were the only Navy warships that had a Covid-19 outbreak while underway at sea, and both had the highest number of cases relative to the crew size," notes the document, dated February 4.
"The USS Theodore Roosevelt had just completed a port call in Da Nang, Vietnam, when its leadership reported the ship's first Covid-19 case on March 24, 2020."
Twenty-five percent of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt's 4,800-member crew ultimately turned up positive for the virus after the March outbreak, and one crew member died.
"On March 24, 2020, the first sailors tested positive for Covid-19, while the ship was underway at sea to Guam." Three days later, on March 27, the aircraft carrier "arrived in Guam to receive medical care for the crew and to clean and disinfect the ship."
"Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic," the report says, "we found that four out of five Navy Component Commands did not conduct a biennial Pandemic Influenza & Infectious Disease exercise in accordance with the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations requirements."
"As a result of not conducting biennial [Pandemic Influenza & Infectious Disease] exercises, most Navy commands did not exercise pandemic response in coordination with their supported combatant commanders."
The removal of USS Theodore Roosevelt commander Capt. Brett Crozier, following the April leak of his memo critical of Navy higher-ups, goes unmentioned in the report.
No criticism is leveled against leadership of the destroyer USS Kidd.
But the audit echoes the blame-laying against the USS Roosevelt's leadership by an in-house Navy audit.
"The Command Investigation report stated that USS Theodore Roosevelt leadership believed that social distancing would be impossible onboard an aircraft carrier."
Adds the document, "The command investigation further stated that the USS Theodore Roosevelt leadership team allowed social gathering areas to remain open and continued to perform urinalysis testing for illegal substances that the leadership team should have considered non-essential during the Covid-19 outbreak."
"Despite the release of Navy guidance allowing Commanding Officers to reduce urinalysis screening and to close social gathering areas to support Covid-19 mitigation efforts, the ship continued to conduct command urinalysis screenings and keep gyms open"
In addition, auditors say, "Leadership decided to prematurely release sailors from shipboard quarantine because conditions in quarantine were crowded and believed that the quarantine was causing more sailors to become infected. According to the Command Investigation, these decisions likely resulted in an increased infection rate."
No criticism is leveled against leadership of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Kidd, based in Everett, Washington.
"The USS Kidd was supporting counternarcotic operations in the U.S. Southern Southern Command area of responsibility in the the eastern Pacific Ocean when its leadership reported the ship's first Covid-19 case on April 22, 2020," says the new audit.
"On April 28, 2020, the USS Kidd arrived at Naval Base San Diego to receive medical care for the crew and to clean and disinfect the ship."
The Navy accepted recommendations made by the Pentagon's auditors regarding beefed-up pandemic planning and the two warships' experiences, the document says. "Lessons learned from the USS Kidd and USS Theodore Roosevelt have been incorporated into the current Standardized Operating Guidance for the fleet."