US sailors don't need to die: captain

A US navy aircraft carrier captain wants to take the USS Theodore Roosevelt out of duty.
A US navy aircraft carrier captain wants to take the USS Theodore Roosevelt out of duty.

The captain of a US navy aircraft carrier facing a growing outbreak of the coronavirus is asking for permission to isolate the bulk of his roughly 5000 crew members on shore, which would take the warship out of duty in an effort to save lives.

The ship is docked in Guam.

In a memo to US navy leaders, the captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt said the spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating, and said that removing all but 10 per cent of the crew is a "necessary risk" in order to stop the spread of the virus.

Navy leaders on Tuesday were scrambling to determine how to best respond to the extraordinary request as dozens of crew members tested positive.

"We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset our sailors," said its navy captain Brett Crozier in a memo obtained by The Associated Press.

A US navy official said Crozier alerted commanders on Sunday evening of the continuing challenges in isolating the virus.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said Crozier wants more isolated housing for the crew and that navy leadership is reviewing options to ensure the health and safety of the crew.

The carrier, like other navy ships, is vulnerable to infectious disease spread given its close quarters.

Australian Associated Press