Dubai, United Arab Emirates – Two U.S. Navy warships operating in the Middle East have been affected by a coronavirus outbreak, authorities said Friday.
One is docked in Bahrain and the other is heading for port.
A dozen soldiers aboard the USS San Diego, a dock landing ship, tested positive for COVID-19, explained Commander Rebecca Rebarich, a spokeswoman for the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet. The boat is moored to the port there.
“All positive cases have been isolated on board and the ship is in a restricted COVID bubble,” Rebarich told The Associated Press. “The port visit and medical care have been coordinated with the host government and the Bahrain Ministry of Health.”
The second ship, the missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea, has “multiple people under investigation” for possible infections, Rebarich said. More tests will be carried out when it reaches a port that the spokeswoman did not rebel for “operational security.”
The San Diego sails with about 600 people on board, while the Philippine Sea carries about 380.
The 5th Fleet patrols the waterways of the Middle East. Their vessels often star in tense encounters with Iranians in the Persian Gulf and in the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow access to the gulf through which 20% of all the oil sold in the world passes.
The largest outbreak in the Navy since the start of the pandemic was detected aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, which was secluded on Guam for nearly two months last year. More than 1,000 seafarers tested positive for the coronavirus and one of them died. In the end, its 4,800 crew members were brought ashore on Guam to spend several weeks in quarantine, in a systematic progression that kept enough personnel on board for their safety and operation.