Nearly 600 USS Theodore Roosevelt Sailors Catch Coronavirus, Navy Evacuates Thousands From Aircraft Carrier

Around 580 crew members on board the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier have contracted coronavirus, prompting the ship to be evacuated.

The U.S. Navy announced on Sunday that 3,967 sailors had been taken off the aircraft carrier in Guam, where it is docked. Those who have been evacuated have been put into isolation for 14 days in local hotels and other nearby facilities.

One crew member who tested positive for COVID-19 has been hospitalized. Around 20 percent of the crew remain on board to guard it and maintain its two nuclear reactors.

The nuclear-powered ship's outbreak has been in the spotlight since Captain Brett Crozier sent a memo on March 30 asking for help after dozens of crew on the ship had tested positive.

"The spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating," he wrote, stating the majority of the ship's crew should be evacuated.

He asked for 90 percent of the crew to be removed so that they could be tested and quarantined properly and so the ship could be disinfected.

USS Theodore Roosevelt Brett Crozier secrecy coronavirus
The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt Mike Heffner/Getty

Crozier, who had also tested positive for COVID-19, sent the message via an unclassified email to Navy officials, copying around 20 or 30 individuals. He was fired after the letter leaked to the media.

In a speech to USS Theodore Roosevelt crew members, the acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly criticized Crozier for writing the memo.

"If he didn't think, in my opinion, that this information wasn't going to get out into the public, in this day and information age that we live in, then he was either A, too naive, or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this," Modly said, according to a leaked recording.

Modly handed in his resignation days later.

"With a heavy heart, I hereby submit my resignation, effective immediately," Modly wrote in his resignation letter.

"The men and women of the Department of the Navy deserve a continuity of civilian leadership befitting our great Republic, and the decisive naval force that secures our way of life. I will be forever grateful for my opportunity, and the blessing, to be part of it."

Earlier this month, more than 250,000 people signed a petition urging the United States Navy to reinstate Crozier.

"Captain Crozier was unjustly relieved of duty of the air craft carrier CVN-71 USS Theodoore Roosevelt on April 2nd 2020. His crime was asking for help regarding the safety of his crew," states the new petition, which has acquired its quarter-million signatures over a period of four days.

"His actions possibly saved many lives," it continues. "Although he was fired, his plan to safely remove crew members was still implemented. He is a hero who should be rewarded."

The number of confirmed cases worldwide has topped 1.85 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. The U.S. has the most confirmed cases at more than 557,000, with 22,108 deaths.