A sailor assigned to the USS Theodore Roosevelt has died of complications related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Navy announced on Monday.
The sailor had previously been admitted to the intensive care unit at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Guam on Thursday after testing positive for the virus.
The name of the sailor is being withheld until 24 hours after a next-of-kin notification, the Navy said.
As of Sunday, the Roosevelt had 585 positive COVID-19 cases among its crew, according to the latest data released by the Navy.
“We mourn the loss of the Sailor from USS Theodore Roosevelt who died today, and we stand alongside their family, loved ones, and shipmates as they grieve,” Chief of Nava Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said in a statement. “This is a great loss for the ship and for our Navy.”
“My deepest sympathy goes out the family, and we pledge our full support to the ship and crew as they continue their fight against the coronavirus,” he added. “While our ships, submarines and aircraft are made of steel, Sailors are the real strength of our Navy.”
“The entire Department is deeply saddened by the loss of our first active duty member to COVID-19,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with the family of the USS Theodore Roosevelt sailor who lost his battle with the virus today. We remain committed to protecting our personnel and their families while continuing to assist in defeating this outbreak.”
News of the COVID-19 death comes after the now-former commander of the Roosevelt, Capt. Brett Crozier, pleaded with the Navy for additional support to halt the spread of the virus aboard the ship.
“Sailors do not need to die,” Crozier wrote in a memo. “If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our sailors.”
Crozier was removed from the Roosevelt on April 2 following the leak of his plea to the San Francisco Chronicle, a removal that prompted now-former Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly to fly to Guam to reassure the crew of the Roosevelt.
Speaking over the ship's intercom on April 5, Modly chastised sailors for enthusiastically cheering for Crozier as he departed the ship for the last time, calling the captain either “too naive or too stupid to be a commanding officer” of their ship.
“You are under no obligation to like your job, only to do it,” Modly told the crew. “You are under no obligation, you are under no obligation to expect anything from your leaders other than they will treat you fairly and put the mission of the ship first.”
Modly also challenged Crozier's assertion that sailors would perish due to the spread of the virus throughout the Roosevelt.
“I think you raise a particular level of alarm when you say that 50 people on the – on the crew are going to die, OK?,” Modly said in his address to the crew. “No one knows that to be true. It does not comport with the data we have right now on the ship.”