First Navy Sailor From USS Theodore Roosevelt Dies of Coronavirus

A Navy sailor who tested positive for the coronavirus while aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt has died, the Navy reported Monday. He is the first sailor from the ship to die from the virus, a spokesman said.

The unidentified sailor had been admitted to intensive care in a U.S. Navy hospital in Guam on Thursday as his symptoms from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, worsened. As of Monday morning, nearly 600 sailors aboard the aircraft carrier had tested positive for the virus.

"The name of the Sailor is being withheld until 24 hours after next-of-kin notification," the Navy said in a news release on its official website.

"The Sailor tested positive for COVID-19 March 30, was removed from the ship and placed in an isolation house on Naval Base Guam with four other USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Sailors. Like other Sailors in isolation, he received medical checks twice daily from Navy medical teams," it said.

USS Theodore Roosevelt
The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is docked at Naval Base Guam in Apra Harbor on April 10. TONY AZIOS/AFP/Getty

On Sunday, the Navy said that 585 sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt had tested positive for the coronavirus. Of the approximately 4,800 crew aboard the aircraft carrier, 92 percent have been tested. Nearly 4,000 have been moved ashore to Guam, where the ship has been stationed since March 27.

The situation on the ship has drawn significant national media attention after the vessel's former commanding officer, Captain Brett Crozier sent a letter urging the Navy to move the sailors from the ship's close quarters onto land in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. A copy of the letter was leaked to the media, which drew anger from former acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly.

Modly relieved Crozier from his command, later telling crew members aboard the carrier that the commander was either "too naive or too stupid" if he didn't think the letter would leak. But those formerly under Crozier's command were clearly upset by Modly's remarks. A recording of the acting secretary's remarks was quickly leaked to the media. Those remarks included audible frustration from the sailors.

When Crozier had left the ship, the sailors under his command had applauded and cheered as he disembarked. Modly later apologized for calling the former commander "naive" and "stupid." He then resigned on April 7.

While President Donald Trump initially appeared to support Modly's decision to remove Crozier, the administration has now suggested the USS Theodore Roosevelt's former commander could be reinstated.

"We've taken nothing off the table," Trump's Defense Secretary Mark Esper told CBS News last Friday morning, suggesting that Crozier could be put back in his former post. "My inclination is always to support the chain of command, and to take the recommendations seriously."

More than 350,000 people have signed a petition on Change.org to reinstate Crozier. "His crime was asking for help regarding the safety of his crew when a COVID-19 outbreak. His actions possibly saved many lives. Although he was fired, his plan to safely remove crew members was still implemented," the petition says.

The New York Times reported on April 5 that Crozier has also tested positive for COVID-19. A Navy spokesperson told the newspaper that the captain had been reassigned to his post at the Naval Air Forces Pacific command in San Diego. But he would first be required to complete a mandatory quarantine period.

This article has been updated with additional information.

First Navy Sailor From USS Theodore Roosevelt Dies of Coronavirus | U.S.