By Cmdr. Matt Noland Executive Officer USS KIDD (DDG 100)
This month, viewers everywhere will have the opportunity to see the latest Hollywood treatment of America’s Greatest Generation: Greyhound. Tom Hanks plays a U.S. Navy destroyer’s commanding officer charged with protecting a convoy of Allied ships from a wolfpack of German U-boats as they transit the Atlantic Ocean.
During the Battle of the Atlantic, between 1939 and 1945, 3,500 Allied merchant ships and 175 Allied warships were sunk, and 72,200 Allied naval and merchant seamen were killed. The Germans lost 783 U-boats and approximately 30,000 sailors.
As executive officer deployed on patrol onboard a modern destroyer, the gravity of what they faced is not lost on me or our crew. Especially today, as our nation finds itself in the Great Power competition with nations including China and Russia – each with its own capable undersea force.
I personally have another tie to this movie. In researching and shooting the movie, Hanks and his team frequented the WWII Fletcher-class USS KIDD (DD 661), which serves as the main attraction of the USS KIDD Veterans Museum in Louisiana. Growing up in Baton Rouge, I, too, visited the museum ship.
As a Boy Scout, I spent a night aboard the World War II-era USS KIDD. I can assure you life aboard today’s USS KIDD is considerably more hospitable then it was on the WWII namesake.
The original USS KIDD (DD 661) was commissioned April 23, 1943, and named for Rear Adm. Isaac C. Kidd, killed in action aboard USS Arizona (BB 39) during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Kidd was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the attack.
USS KIDD earned 12 battle stars during her career: Eight for service in World War II and four for service in Korea.
I’m humbled to serve on today’s namesake. Our USS KIDD (DDG 100) was commissioned June 9, 2007, in Galveston, Texas, and is currently conducting counter-drug operations in U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility.
The parallels between the old and new ship are important to me. Now aboard USS KIDD (DDG 100), underway on deployment, you can bet the crew and I will watch the new movie Greyhound. In today’s Navy, we build and train combat-ready ships and battle-minded crews, and I’m personally inspired by the legacy of American heroism at sea in World War II. Plus, it’s always exciting to see a film about the surface Navy.
Serving as executive officer of the USS KIDD is a special assignment to me. There are fewer than 300 ships in the Navy, and for me to be placed on the USS KIDD seems like a dream.
While growing up in Baton Rouge, I visited the USS KIDD Veterans Museum in the downtown area often and even got to know the museum’s original director, Maury Drummond, quite well. I spent lots of time talking to him about ship models he had built, and if you spend any time at the museum, you will notice a lot of beautiful model warships on display. Some of the most exquisite ones were built by Mr. Drummond himself. It definitely sparked my fascination with ships and with the Navy.
When I joined the US Navy in 2002, I had no idea that it would become a way of life for me, that I would be selected for command of a warship, or get a chance to serve on USS KIDD. Not many of us are afforded the honor of command at sea, and that is very exciting to me. I started seriously considering a naval career back in high school, so it’s been a lifelong aspiration, and it’s coming true for me. It’s incredible.
With service in the Navy, there’s never a guarantee of a Hollywood ending. There’s challenge. There’s reward and satisfaction. And there are lifelong relationships and experiences you won’t find anywhere else.
I truly hope watching Greyhound is the closest our crew and I get taking on another blue-water navy at war. But I have every confidence that if called, we’d fight with tenacity, determination and lethality. Like our ships’ namesake, and those on the original KIDD crew, we live the core values of honor, courage and commitment.
You might say this is art, imitating life, imitating art. And KIDD and remains the picture of readiness.
Noland, from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, graduated from Louisiana State University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and a Master’s in Strategy from the U.S. Naval War College. He is an Anti-Submarine and Anti-Surface Warfare Tactics Instructor.
Note: USS KIDD (DDG 100) departed San Diego June 10, continuing its scheduled deployment, conducting enhanced counternarcotics operations in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific. Last week her crew assisted a fishing vessel in distress, where USS KIDD took the vessel under tow for about 200 nautical miles until additional assistance from the ship’s parent company was able to support.
By Cmdr. Michael Kaplan, MD Director of Medical Services Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Florida
While USS Kidd (DDG 100) was deployed to the U.S. Fourth Fleet Area of Responsibility, a Sailor began experiencing COVID-19 symptoms April 20, a month after the ship’s last port call.
In the weeks preceding this first positive case onboard, the crew of USS Kidd was already applying the Navy’s COVID-19 lessons learned. In early April, Sailors began to make and wear cloth face masks. They conducted a quarantine and isolation drill to determine how to segregate sick and healthy crew members on a ship with limited space.
In addition, the surface Navy and operational commanders sent COVID-19 mitigation guidance to the fleet and built contingencies in the event another deployed ship experienced an outbreak.
This is the story of the seven-member medical team from Naval Hospital Jacksonville who jumped into action to provide medical care to the crew of USS Kidd.
Be Prepared to Respond Quickly to a Possible Outbreak
On the morning of April 23, my boss, Capt. Matthew Case, commanding officer of Naval Hospital Jacksonville, came over to my office. He asked if we could send a team to a ship in distress, to do testing, isolating, and quarantining of Sailors who may be sick with COVID-19, as well as provide medical support until they can get back to a safe place.
I said, “Sure, when would they need to go?”
He said three hours.
We balanced who would be most qualified and available on such short notice without leaving the hospital in a bad place, since every department had been stretched because of COVID-19.
We built a team of seven medical providers: Along with me, an allergy/immunology and internal medicine physician by trade, were Lt. Cmdr. Clifton Wilcox, MD, a preventative medicine physician; the lab technician, Hospitalman Joseph Kim; two preventative medicine technicians, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Derrick Hudson and Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Jason Turgeon; and finally, the two hospital corpsmen, Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Brian Krawsczyn and Hospitalman Jason Moyer.
Within hours of the call, we were packed up with all the equipment and tests. We didn’t have much time to think about what we were getting into, which is probably a good thing. Not too many people would want to run into a burning building. When we left we knew very little about how many Sailors were currently sick.
We took a P-8 Poseidon from Jacksonville, a couple of miles down the street from our hospital. It flew us to El Salvador, and from there we took an SH-60 Sea Hawk helicopter offshore.
Test Everyone, Even if They Don’t Show Symptoms
That evening, we began testing the crew. Within 24 hours of arriving, we already had 25 percent of Kidd Sailors tested. Once we identified someone who was positive yet asymptomatic, we took the initiative to isolate them, so they couldn’t spread the infection. Our goal was to reduce further spread among potentially vulnerable Sailors who were not already infected.
Of all the Sailors who tested positive while still onboard, about 50 percent were asymptomatic.
Testing everyone took a lot time. One challenge was that our COVID-19 testing machine could only run one sample at a time. We could average about four to five tests per hour at best. Before the ship arrived in San Diego, we tested 100 percent of the crew, but this required that we run the tests 24 hours a day.
We still had days until we would arrive in San Diego and disembark the crew. Until then, we wanted to do everything we could to minimize the spread on the ship, to ensure Sailors could remain healthy and do their job.
I have to give kudos to Kidd’s independent duty corpsman, Chief Hospital Corpsman Clinton Barton, and his medical department. They did a great job identifying which Sailors were likely infected. Barton took it upon himself to isolate those not feeling well before we even got there.
Despite the limited space on a cramped destroyer, he did the right thing: isolating people he had concerns about. That allowed us to rapidly test those people first, make sure our equipment was working properly and try to mitigate the spread. As we continued to test other Sailors who did not have symptoms, we just increased the isolation ward he had created.
Minimize Exposure to Avoid Being Infected
We implemented a number of steps to try to mitigate the spread, such as administering N-95 masks to the entire crew, increasing the cleaning frequency for common areas and making sure Sailors wash their hands or use sanitizer before going into common areas such as the galley.
The location of the ship from where we started was outside the typical range of a helicopter. USS Makin Island (LHD 8) provided an additional resource, should we run into trouble and need to move Sailors off USS Kidd. Makin Island is capable of taking on types of aircraft that Kidd can’t, allowing for longer medevacs.
With an embarked fleet surgical team, Makin Island can also provide Role 2 level of care. Role 2 care includes basic resuscitation and stabilization and may include surgical capability, basic laboratory, limited x-ray, pharmacy, and temporary holding facilities.
While underway, 15 Sailors from Kidd were transported to Makin Island, where they received radiographic imaging and laboratory diagnostic services, as well as general medical services.
Test Everyone Again
Although we’d tested 100 percent of the crew already, we retested everyone in San Diego on arrival. Knowing who is positive is imperative, and the only way to know is through testing.
Learn From the Experiences of Others
We took advantage of some of the lessons from the outbreak aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). I think the combination of hard work, some good planning—even though we had extraordinarily little time—and just making sure we did everything we possibly could allowed it to work out.
Having multiple courses of action is always a good idea, because you never know if something is not going to work the way you expect. Fortunately, we had enough redundancy built into the system.
Also, bring the right equipment, and think outside the box. Then you just put it together.
Clearly, this mission demonstrates having a robust and well-rounded medical force ready is integral to ensuring our Navy is capable of meeting whatever challenges arise.
NOTE: On returning to Jacksonville, Kaplan and his team retested negative, were quarantined for 14 days, and retested negative a third time before returning to work.
April is Month of the Military Child, and on behalf of my husband Mike, I want to take this opportunity to thank, recognize, and celebrate our military children.
As a mother of two boys, young men now, I understand the challenges and rewards that come with raising children in a Navy household.
Military children face something that other children don’t — deployments, moves, and absences. These experiences force children to become familiar with uncertainty and change. And isn’t that a great skill to carry over into our lives now, as we adjust to different patterns due to the coronavirus?
Today, the need for resilience is more important than ever. To our Navy children, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for doing your part — for the moving, being the new kid in school from time to time, and adapting to the new family routines when your parent is at work or deployed.
Military children, both youth and teenagers, are strong and they set examples for their friends, their neighbors, and their local communities on how to make personal sacrifices in the service of the collective good.
Let’s take time together to celebrate the patriotism, strength, and perseverance of our military children. Let’s applaud their daily sacrifices and the challenges they overcome. Most of all, let’s thank them for their love and support, which makes the life of service to the Navy possible.
We also want to recognize not only the parents who raise the children, but also the Navy child- and healthcare professionals. What you do matters to support Navy children.
To everyone, please join me in recognizing our Navy children and their families, not only this month but all throughout the year.
Thank you very much.
Shipmates, Fleet Master Chief Koshoffer from MyNavy HR here to talk about Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. COVID-19 mitigation efforts have really changed the way we are doing business in many areas of our Navy but there are some things that we must continue to work on, regardless of the scenario we are facing. Preventing sexual harassment and sexual assault is one of those areas where we can never take our eye off the ball.
Last year during Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, we renewed our commitment to prevent sexual violence. This year, we will build on that pledge with some actionable steps: Respect. Protect. Empower. We must, at all times, commit to treating others with respect. Protecting one another from harm and empowering those around us to speak up and step in.
We all play a significant role in prevention! We have a great team of coordinators, advocates, and support personnel doing amazing work but the responsibility to protect our Shipmates is shared by every one of us.
Every member of our team must set the tone, lead by example, and consistently engage in behavior that fosters dignity and respect. We must hold ourselves accountable to the highest possible standards of conduct, and we must create an inclusive team that is focused on building a stronger, more resilient, and more powerful Navy.
While April presents an opportunity to highlight the SAPR Program, eradicating sexual assault from our ranks can only be accomplished when all hands are engaged in creating a positive, professional environment that is built on trust.
Although we will not be able to conduct the same types of “events” that we normally would – we can still spend some time looking at the culture that we are creating in our workplace and we can certainly re-dedicate ourselves to the prevention of sexual assault in our Navy!
I have the utmost respect for Mr. Roosevelt and his family’s immense heritage of service to the nation. In the case of Captain Crozier, however, he is wrong. I suspect he has no other motive than to defend a courageous man, a man in the arena, but he simply does not have access to the relevant facts that led to the captain’s dismissal.
Capt. Crozier’s emotional letter on official Navy letterhead, addressed to no one in particular, was attached to an email which he distributed broadly to multiple addressees. It began “My Fellow Naval Aviators.” It included, and intentionally excluded, various people from his direct chain of command.
In the body of the email to which his letter was attached Captain Crozier wrote, “I fully realize that I bear responsibility for not demanding more decisive action the moment we pulled in (to Guam), but right now my only priority is the continued well-being of the crew and embarked staff.” While this may have been his self-assessment, I know that no one in his chain of command, up to and including me, who felt that Captain Crozier bore any responsibility for not demanding more decisive action at that time.
The facts are that Capt. Crozier’s direct chain of command, up to the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, had been communication with him well before (and after) he sent the email. So had my office. I asked my Chief of Staff to call him just after the ship pulled into Guam. He did so twice, and Capt. Crozier expressed no alarm to him at all. Bottom line, the public disclosure of Capt. Crozier’s letter had no impact on the flow of support to the ship. None. The crew of the ship was already being tested as rapidly as possible, isolated as necessary, and moved off the ship to quarantine. That was all happening to the greatest extent possible while still providing for the safety of the ship and all those still aboard.
Capt. Crozier did tell us that he was impatient with the pace of moving Sailors off the ship. We were ALL impatient with the pace. Securing 4,000 individual rooms suitable for isolation on Guam in the middle of a pandemic-forced shutdown is not a simple task. That being said, in less than a week, thanks in large part to the Government of Guam and the support of the rest of the Pacific Fleet, we have secured nearly 3,700. That plan was in action well prior to Capt. Crozier writing his letter, and it continues to be executed today.
What the public release of his letter did do, however, was unnecessarily create a public panic, when what was called for was calm. In my view, this is one of the main areas where Captain Crozier “bears responsibility.” It was his lapse of judgment in a moment of adversity that led to my loss of confidence in him.
I don’t doubt Captain Crozier’s love for his crew. But in my view, he did serious harm to his Sailors and the rest of our Navy when he created an atmosphere of crisis, while it was his primary duty to be a steady hand on a stormy sea. He did not send his dire warning on classified networks, or place any markings to suggest the information was classified, sensitive, or for official use only. While this may sound mundane to the average citizen, it is unacceptable behavior for the commanding officer of a nuclear powered aircraft carrier, and it should never be tolerated. As a civilian leader responsible to the American public for their safety and security, as well as that of every Sailor and Marine serving and standing the watch, I will not.
Sensitive information about the material condition of our biggest and most powerful warship made its way out into the public arena, in the hands of our adversaries. So did statements about political decisions outside the purview of the military. It was my determination that the Navy could not afford to wait to see if this lapse of judgement was just an aberration, or even the Captain’s new normal in the midst of a challenge. The stakes of our national security are simply much too high for that.
After all, Mr. Roosevelt, Captain Crozier was the Commanding Officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, and I am relatively certain your great grandfather would have demanded much more under pressure. I certainly do, and we all must.
Chief of Naval Operations
Adm. Mike Gilday and Mrs. Linda Gilday
It’s a busy time with the Coronavirus and stressful as well, but my wife, Linda, and I want to take this opportunity to recognize the countless women who serve in the U.S. Navy – active and reserve, uniform and civilian – as well as those who serve as military spouses on the front lines at home.
These are challenging times right now for all of us, but there is no doubt that women have, and will continue to make history in exciting ways. As March comes to an end, we want to recognize Women’s History Month as well as the amazing work being done by so many. Each of us is making history in some small way right now.
The Navy is full of trailblazers who paved a way for the more than 67,000 women who serve as part of our active force today. These spouses, mothers, daughters, sisters, and coworkers serve in every rank – from seaman to admiral… and in most every job – from naval aviators to deep-sea divers. Right now there are female doctors, nurses, and corpsmen deployed aboard the USNS Mercy and Comfort as part of the Navy’s broader response to the coronavirus epidemic. There are also many women who are acting at home as nurses to their own families.
Thousands of women also serve our Navy team as military spouses, supportive family members, government civilians and reservists. We know the sacrifices you are making and what you bring to the Navy team. While some receive public recognition, many do not. And we encourage ALL Navy leaders to take note of these accomplishments!
To the women who forged ahead and broke through that glass ceiling – thank you. And to the women who serve selflessly with little fanfare day-in and day-out – we appreciate all that you do.
We all have important roles to play in service to the Navy, and to our Nation. Your work matters – whether it’s at home, in an office or aboard ships at sea… It matters, and we thank you. We also would love to see your amazing stories right now – so join our conversation at: #NavyWomenMakingHistory.
We will see you out in the Fleet!
CNO: Shipmates, it’s the 30th of March, 2020. MCPON Smith and I wanted to provide you and your families an update on COVID-19. During this extraordinary time, what remains constant are our top three priorities: taking care of you and your families, being mission ready, and supporting the whole-of-government effort. MCPON: This past week, we’ve seen a rise in numbers who have tested positive for the coronavirus throughout the Fleet. We continue to take this threat very seriously and are working aggressively to keep Sailors healthy, as well as to prevent further spread of the virus.
CNO: We have to think, act, and operate differently right now to both protect Sailors and to remain mission ready. This is not business as usual. That is why many commanders have implemented a 14-day fast cruise for units preparing to get underway, which will conduct important training evolutions, exercises, or deployments.
MCPON: Additionally, we have implemented a 14-day restricted-movement policy for new recruits at RTC. And the entire RTC staff will also remain on base for up to 90 days, to minimize potential spread of the virus. CNO: We are also supporting the whole-of-government approach in many ways. USNS Mercy arrived in Los Angeles last Friday, and USNS Comfort arrived in New York City this morning. We also deployed two expeditionary medical teams: one to Dallas, Texas, and the other to New Orleans.
MCPON: 2,200 Navy medical professionals are on board these ships, which will serve as referral hospitals for non-COVID-19 patients. Another 1,000 medical personnel are awaiting orders to be deployed.
CNO: In this fight, our Navy medical team is on the front line – fighting to care and treat the American people. Other Sailors from our Reserve and Engineering communities may join the coronavirus fight soon. You all have our thanks and our gratitude.
MCPON: People are the lifeblood of the Navy – and we are counting on every Sailor to take this outbreak seriously. CNO: While we recognize some new COVID-19 policies place a burden on you and your families, these actions must be taken to ensure your safety and also to maintain mission readiness. MCPON: To families and loved ones at home, thank you for your support and understanding. This is a hard time, and we could not do this without you.
CNO: I’ll end with this: As military professionals, we prepare daily to deal with adversity, uncertainty and conflict. Our Sailors and their families are resilient. We know you will set an example for your friends, for your neighbors and in your local communities on how to make personal sacrifices in service of the collective good. So stay safe, Shipmates. Americans depend on us for security. And we will not let them down.
This is the U.S. Navy blog site for the 2020 deployment of Navy hospital ships USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) and USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) to provide medical support to Americans in regions significantly affected by the COVID-19 virus pandemic. Navy medical professionals on both ships will assist local health care providers by offering care to persons who do not have the virus, freeing local hospitals and clinics to treat COVID-19 patients.
Visit here frequently to see the latest video content, imagery, news articles and other information about these ships and their Navy crew members as they serve Americans during this deployment.
The operation is led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, in coordination with U.S. Northern Command, Military Sealift Command and the U.S. Navy. The Navy is committed to providing Defense Support of Civil Authorities by increasing medical capacity and collaboration for medical assistance in two areas of the country that have seen tremendous impact from the coronabvirus pandemic.
On March 18, President Trump announced Navy
hospital ships USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) and Comfort (T-AH-20) were to be activated
and deployed stateside to serve as referral centers for non-COVID-19 patients. The
longest-serving hospital ships in continuous operation in our history, Mercy
and Comfort have long captured the public’s imagination due to their vast medical
capabilities as floating hospitals. But in the storied history of our hospital
ships, stateside deployments during global pandemics remain unchartered waters.
Hospital ships have played pivotal roles in naval
operations since the early days of our Republic. During the Barbary
Wars, Commodore Edward Preble ordered that USS
Intrepid be used as a hospital ship. The reconfiguration of this former bomb-ketch
in 1803 marks the standard for almost all hospital ships used thereafter. To
date, only USS Relief (AH-1) was built from the keel up to serve as a hospital
ship. All other ships—including USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort—were converted from
other uses whether as super tankers, troop transports or passenger liners.
Whether it is the USS Red Rover transporting patients
up the Mississippi to Mound Island in the Civil War or USS Solace (AH-5) taking
wounded Marines from Iwo Jima to Guam hospital, ships have long served in the
capacity of ambulance ships.
During the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918,
Comfort (AH-3) and Mercy (AH-4) were each briefly stationed in New York where
they took care of overflow patients from the Third Naval District before
returning to the fleet and sailing across the Atlantic. Along with USS Solace
(AH-2), these ships ferried thousands of wounded and sick (including virulent
cases of the flu) back to stateside facilities.
Throughout 19th and early 20th centuries, a
host of Navy ships was sent around the country to serve as “station hospitals”
for burgeoning naval bases.
From the 1850s until the early 1860s, supply
ships USS Warren and later USS Independence operated in this capacity at Mare
Island, California, until shore facilities were constructed. Decades later, the
Navy employed the former gunboat USS Nipsic at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, where
it served as a predecessor to Naval Hospital Bremerton (Puget Sound). And from
1953 until 1957, the hospital ship USS Haven (AH-12) served as a station
hospital at Long Beach, California, supporting medical activities in the
Eleventh Naval District.
Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR) operations have long been the clarion call for hospital ships. In March 1933, following the devastating earthquake that hit Long Beach, USS Relief (AH-1) sent teams of physicians and Hospital Corpsmen ashore to assist in treatment of casualties. Some 66 years later, following the Loma Prieta Earthquake of October 1989, USNS Mercy—then moored in Oakland—provided food and shelter for hundreds of victims of the disaster.
Since 2001, USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy have
taken part in some 19 HADR missions, from Continuing Promise to Unified
Assistance, and treated over 550,000 patients. But of these missions, only two
were stateside deployments.
Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Comfort deployed
to the Gulf Coast where she treated 1,258 patients at Pascagoula, Mississippi,
and New Orleans. Years earlier, she was sent to New York City following the attacks
on Sept. 11.
Originally envisioned as a floating trauma
hospital for the victims of the Twin Towers’ collapse, the ship’s mission
changed when it became clear there were not the large numbers of injured
expected. Vice Adm. Michael Cowan, Navy surgeon general in 2001, recalled that
New York’s Emergency Management Office stated the city was being overwhelmed
with the requirements of humanity. “The island didn’t have facilities to support the firemen and
rescuers and police digging
through the rubble and
sleeping on the hood of their engines,” Cowan said. “They were becoming dirty, going without water as they worked in
harsh environments. NYC requested the Comfort to provide humanitarian services; as the
‘Comfort Inn,’ which could be docked close to the site.”
From Sept. 14
to Oct. 1, Comfort provided hot meals, showers, a berth, a change of clean
clothes to about a 1,000 relief workers a day from its temporary home at Pier
92 in Manhattan.
When commissioned on Dec. 28, 1920, Relief (AH-1)
could boast the same amenities as the most modern hospitals at the time—large
corridors and elevators for transporting patients, and fully equipped surgical
operating rooms, wards, galleys, pantries, wash rooms, laboratories,
dispensaries, as well as a sterilizing/disinfecting room—all with “sanitary”
USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort are no different
in this regard and are comparable to some of the largest trauma hospitals in
the United States. Each ship contains 12 fully equipped operating rooms, a bed
capacity of 1,000 and can boast of digital radiological services, medical
laboratories, full-serve pharmacies, blood banks, medical equipment repair
shops, prosthetics and physical therapy.
Emblazoned with nine red crosses and
stretching 894 feet in length (the size of three football fields) Mercy and
Comfort remain powerful symbols of medical care and hope during the
Reports of the Surgeon General of the U.S. Navy for the Fiscal Year 1919. Washington,
DC: Government Printing Office, 1919.
Michael, Oral History conducted with (Session conducted by A.B. Sobocinski and
D.V. Ginn on September 12, 2013). BUMED Oral History Archives.
Shipmates, it’s the 19th of March, 2020. A lot has changed in the past week, and the impacts of the coronavirus are changing daily life for all of us.
Our focus right now is threefold: We must protect our people, and we must maintain mission readiness. And finally, we have to support the whole-of-government effort.
That is why we’ve enacted additional policies designed to combat the spread of coronavirus.
We’ve done a number of things, including moving to shift work, reducing our manning, and increasing our telework. We have closed DoD schools and many MWR facilities, as well as curtailed some child and youth programs. We have postponed our E-4 advancement exam, we’ve suspended the spring physical readiness test, and we’ve postponed drill weekends for reserves until May 11. We’ve also suspended recruit graduation ceremonies until further notice. Additionally, we will pause administrative and statutory promotion boards for the time being.
We are also preparing our two 1,000-bed hospital ships, the Mercy and Comfort, to get underway to relieve pressure on civilian health providers, who are focused on treating folks with the coronavirus.
Operationally, to keep our ships, our aircraft and our submarines ready, commanders are empowered to take the necessary precautions, so they can effectively carry out their missions and meet the critical needs of our Sailors.
While 30 percent of our fleet is underway today—including four carrier strike groups and four amphibious ready groups—we must, to the greatest extent possible, practice social distancing, as well as good hygiene and cleanliness aboard our ships, in our offices, and in our homes.
America continues to depend on us to provide security and stability to this nation, and we will do just that.
Expect additional guidance over the days and weeks ahead as this situation continues to change. To stay up-to-date on these changes, check out our coronavirus page on Navy.mil.
Finally, we must be mindful that while many of our shipmates are very adept at maintaining their support networks, for some, social distancing can lead to a loss of connectedness and feelings of isolation. You need to know that you’re not alone.