Both US aircraft carriers in the Pacific are taken out of action for up to a MONTH after sailors get infected with coronavius – giving China an almost free hand in the region as Pentagon raises threat level to second highest setting
- USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Ronald Reagan are the only two US aircraft carriers in the Pacific; both have sailors who have tested positive to COVID-19
- The diagnoses have prompted USS Theodore Roosevelt to port in Guam, where it could be held for at least a month
- USS Ronald Reagan is currently in port in Tokyo, Japan, and it is unclear whether all of its crew will now be quarantined
- China now appears to have a free hand in the Pacific – alarming news given heightened tensions between Beijing and Washington
- The two superpowers have traded barbs over the origins of COVID-19, and China accused the US of ‘playing a dangerous game’ by sailing a destroyer near Taiwan
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
Sailors on board both US aircraft carriers in the Pacific have tested positive to coronavirus, sparking fears the Navy could become crippled in the region.
At least 25 sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, forcing the warship to port in Guam to test all 5,000 on board.
The carrier was in the midst of a deployment to the Philippine and South China Seas when the COVID-19 diagnoses prompted the Navy to order it to cease sail Thursday.
On Friday, the US was dealt another blow following confirmation that two sailors from the USS Ronald Reagan – currently in port in Japan – had also tested positive to the highly-contagious virus.
Roosevelt and Reagan are the only two US carriers in the Pacific, and may be out of action for 25 days as they test and quarantine crew.
It effectively gives China free hand in the region. The country has two aircraft carriers, including the recently-completed Shandong, which is currently in port at Hainan Island, the country’s southernmost point.
The US has 11 aircraft carriers – but two are deployed to the Middle East, and five are in US ports undergoing overhauls, including one with a sailor who has also tested positive for COVID-19.
The potential crippling of the US Navy in the Pacific is alarming news given escalating tensions between Beijing and Washington in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
One anonymous service member stationed in Guam fears more US sailors and military members could become sickened with COVID-19.
‘We’re f**ked,’ they told The Daily Beast Friday.
The Navy currently has 133 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 104 of which are reported to be active-duty. On Wednesday, the Department of Defense raised its health protection level to its second highest level at every military installation around the world.
At least 25 sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, forcing the warship to port in Guam to test all 5,000 passengers on board. It is pictured above in a stock image
The USS Ronald Reagan is currently in port in Tokyo. At least two of its sailors have tested positive to COVID-19. Stock image
According to a bombshell report in The Huffington Post Friday, several service members claimed there is widespread frustration within their ranks about how the military has handled the COVID-19 outbreak.
One alleged that members of the military were ‘pissed’ that ‘the six feet of social distancing was not being enforced’ on numerous bases around the country.
Former Army epidemiologist Dr Remington Nevel told the publication: ‘The military’s dirty little secret, if you will, is that it is highly susceptible as an organization to outbreaks of particularly respiratory infectious illness’
With the military facing its biggest health crisis since the Spanish Flu of 1918, its a precarious time to be left vulnerable in the Asia-Pacific region, given the escalating feud with China.
China and the US have traded barbs over the origin of the highly-contagious virus, with President Donald Trump angering Beijing by calling it the ‘Chinese virus’.
Senior Chinese officials have retaliated by spreading their own conspiracy theories about the virus’ origin.
On Tuesday, China was left outraged after America’s destroyer USS McCampbell sailed through Taiwan Strait – the body of water which separates Taiwan and China, and which Beijing regards as its own territory.
Chinese officials on Thursday accused the United States of playing ‘a dangerous game’.
There are also concerns North Korea could take advantage of the vulnerable US situation. Three weeks ago, the country fired two short-range missiles into the sea off its eastern coast in a new challenge to Washington. It was North Korea’s first missile launch in more than three months.
The guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (shown in file photo) sailed through the Taiwan Strait, which Beijing regards as part of its territory
WHERE ARE AMERICA’S AIRCRAFT CARRIERS?
The US has 11 aircraft carriers at present. Sailors on three of those ships have tested positive to coronavirus, raising fears the Navy could become crippled by COVID-19.
USS Theodore Roosevelt – In port
Currently in port in Guam. At least 25 of its sailors have coronavirus
USS Ronald Reagan – In port
Currently in Tokyo, Japan. At least two of its sailors have coronavirus
USS Carl Vinson – In port
Currently in dry dock in Washington state, USA. At least one of its sailors has tested positive to COVID-19
USS Nimitz – In port
Docked in Washington state. Working up to its next deployment
USS Abraham Lincoln -In port
Currently docked in San Diego, following a mission to the Middle East
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower – Deployed
Currently on deployment in the Middle East
USS George Washington – In port
Docked in Newport, Viriginia for a scheduled four-year Refueling and Complex Overhaul, due to be completed in 2021
USS John C. Stennis – In port
Docked in Norfolk, Virginia for a Refueling and Complex Overhaul, due to be completed in the mid 2020s
USS Harry S. Truman – Deployed
Currently deployed in the Middle East to support maritime security
USS George H.W. Bush – In port
In Northfolk, Virginia for a planned 28-month docking
USS Gerald R. Ford – In port
Commissioned by President Trump in 2017, and expected to be deployed for the first time in 2022
China has been angered by the Trump administration’s stepped-up support for Taiwan – an island it considers its own.
Anthony Junco, a spokesman for the US Seventh Fleet, said the guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell conducted ‘a routine Taiwan Strait transit’ on March 25, in line with international law.
‘The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,’ he added. ‘The US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.’
Taiwan’s defence ministry said the ship sailed north through the waterway and was monitored by Taiwan’s armed forces, on what it called an ‘ordinary mission’, adding there was no cause for alarm.
In Beijing, Chinese defence ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang denounced ‘continued negative actions’ by the United States on Taiwan, including sailings through and flights over the Taiwan Strait.
‘U.S. moves have seriously interfered in China’s internal affairs, severely harmed peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and poisoned Sino-U.S. military ties,’ Ren told a monthly news conference.
The actions were ‘extremely dangerous’, he added.
Taiwan is China’s most sensitive territorial and diplomatic issue and Beijing has never ruled out the use of force to bring the island under its control. The narrow Taiwan Strait that separates the island from China is a frequent source of tension.
In recent weeks China’s air force has conducted several exercises close to Taiwan, prompting its mostly U.S.-equipped military to scramble fighters to intercept and warn away the Chinese aircraft.
Taiwan has called the drills provocative, and urged China to pay more attention to fighting a coronavirus pandemic, rather than menace it.
The United States Army wants retired soldiers who served in health care specialties to ‘rejoin the team’ to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
‘We need to hear from you STAT!’ the Army told its retirees though a message sent by the Defense Finance and Accounting Services, the department responsible for paying their pensions.
The message was signed by Lt. Gen. Thomas Seamands, the deputy chief of staff for US Army Personnel, G-1, according to Military.com.
The G-1 is the Army’s Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, the department responsible for manpower and personnel plans.
The Army is asking retired officers, noncommissioned officers, and junior enlisted soldiers to consider joining the effort to stop the pandemic that has hit the US hard.
Members of the Army look on as the USNS Mercy, a Navy hospital ship, departs the Naval Station San Diego and heads to the Port of Los Angeles to aid local medical facilities dealing with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients on Monday
It is not known if the Army plans to install retired troops back to active duty status.
‘These extraordinary challenges require equally extraordinary solutions and that’s why we’re turning to you – trusted professionals capable of operating under constantly changing conditions,’ the message reads.
‘When the Nation called – you answered, and now, that call may come again.’
The Army is specifically looking for specialists in critical care, anesthesiology, nursing, emergency room nursing, respiratory specialists, and medics.
Anyone currently working in a civilian capacity in a hospital or some other medical facility should inform the Army, which does not want to enlist those currently ‘providing to the Nation.’
The Army has asked retirees to consider helping it combat the spread of the coronavirus. The above image shows medics with the Louisiana Army and Air National Guard at a testing site in New Orleans on March 18
US military withholds coronavirus infection data as cases rise by 30% in one day
The U.S. military has decided it will stop providing some of the more granular data about coronavirus infections within its ranks, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper revealed
The US Defense Department has issued a 60-day freeze to troop deployments to aid in further prevention of the spread of the coronavirus as cases jump by 30 percent on Wednesday
U.S. Sailors man the bridge of USS Boxer, just one of the U.S. warships hit by the coronavirus
The US military has decided it will stop providing some of the more granular data about coronavirus infections within its ranks out of concern that the information might be used by adversaries as the virus spreads.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper outlined the plan in an interview with Reuters, saying that he wanted the military to keep providing broader data about infections in the armed forces, which boasts well over one million active service members.
He also banned all troop movement overseas for 60 days to curb the spread of the coronavirus as cases among US service members rose by 30 percent to 280 cases on Thursday, a jump of 53.
A further 81 civilian employees, 67 dependents and 40 contractors have tested positive.
The freeze will affect 90,000 service members including those who were set to leave Afghanistan as part of a peace deal with the Taliban.
The largest increase in military cases has been seen in the United States but there are thousands more US military personnel in quarantine or in self-isolation in Europe and the Middle East due to exposure to a person with the coronavirus or recent travel to a high-risk area.
Esper, a former Army secretary, said he wanted some of the more mission-specific information to be withheld to prevent compromising operational security.
‘What we want to do is give you aggregated numbers. But we’re not going to disaggregate numbers because it could reveal information about where we may be affected at a higher rate than maybe some other places,’ Esper said, without disclosing precisely what information would be withheld or when the plan would be implemented.
The military has a small number infections compared to its one million plus forces but until now the locations of individual cases have been provided, including the first case in a US soldier in South Korea in February.
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Ernesto Santa Ana, right, and Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Maria F. Potts-Szoke, work in Naval Medical Research Center’s mobile laboratory aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt where 23 cases of the coronavirus was confirmed Thursday
‘I’m not going to get into a habit where we start providing numbers across all the commands and we come to a point six, seven weeks from now where we have some concerns in some locations and reveal information that could put people at risk,’ Esper said.
‘The rate of infection and its impact is not hitting us at the levels that we have any concerns about right now,’ he added but noted that releasing information about troops overseas was dangerous for the safety of those in the fight against al-Shabaab in East Africa as well as Islamic State militants in Syria or Afghanistan.
On Tuesday, the Navy revealed they had changed their policy to no longer supply information on which ship positive sailors serve on after over a dozen cases were discovered on various warships based in San Diego.
The policy said it would will now ‘only release the number of positive cases and the geographic location of those sailors’.
The largest increase in troops has been seen within the U.S. with 85 percent of cases in the Air Force based at home.
Ninety percent of 104 cases in the Navy at now based at home while the Army declined to reveal their figures, according to Yahoo! News.
Esper did not confirm that the threat of the coronavirus was greater for troops based at home than overseas but commented on it being easier to control the actions of troops and their families who are stationed outside of America.
‘You have far, far, far greater control of your servicemembers when you’re deployed abroad, even when you’re stationed abroad, than you do back in the United States,’ he said.
The number of those in quarantine and self-isolation has also not been revealed amid claims that it is not something the military want ‘to advertise’.
‘If advertised, numbers can be used by adversaries to their advantage,’ said Air Force Colonel Christopher Karns, a spokesman at the U.S. Africa Command.
On Wednesday, Esper also suspended all troop movement overseas for 60 days in attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the military.
The order applies to all US forces, civilian personnel and families, including those scheduled to return stateside and those scheduled to deploy.
‘This measure is taken to aid in further prevention of the spread of [COVID-19], to protect U.S. personnel and preserve the operational readiness of our global force,’ according to the DOD statement.
The order will be hardest felt in Afghanistan where US troops were scheduled to leave in accordance with a peace agreement with the Taliban but 90,000 service member will be affected in total.
The US headquarters overseeing operations in Afghanistan reported Tuesday that four service members who recently arrived in the country had tested positive for the virus and were placed into a separate quarantine.
Sailors prepare surgical equipment to be sterilized aboard the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy which is on its way to Los Angeles to aid with the coronavirus
Exceptions will be granted to those needing medical treatment and Navy ship deployments if they will be in transit for 14 days.
‘The purpose is to make sure that we’re not bringing the virus back home, infecting others, that we’re not spreading it around the military,’ Esper told Reuters.
The Pentagon froze domestic travel for service members, civilian employees and their family members until May 11 earlier this month.
The news also comes as a total of 23 cases were confirmed aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, currently underway in the Pacific, after three people were airlifted from the ship on Tuesday.
Four patients in total have now been airlifted out for treatment at a medical facility in Guam as the number of cases on the ship rose by 20 in a day.
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