Updated: Jun 8, 2020
The United States Navy confirmed that the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) has been redirected to Guam after a spike of COVID-19 cases aboard the vessel. Fearing an outbreak aboard a key US asset, the Navy ordered testing for all 5,000 sailors. Thus far, 25 personnel have tested positive, although that number is expected to increase as time continues. The USS Theodore Roosevelt joins the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD-4), USS Ralph Johnson (DDG-114), and USS Coronado (LCS-4) in reporting cases.
What It Means:
Aircraft Carriers are an essential part of the United States' strategic posturing. As part of a Carrier Battle Group, they allow the superpower to effectively project power overseas. In the face of a deadly pandemic, American military power may be limited. The Spanish Influenza, for example, resulted in over one million soldiers falling sick and 45,000 perishing during the final months of the First World War. As a result, operational movements were hindered and large-scale offensive operations were often canceled. If carriers are seriously impacted by COVID-19 and are unable to preform their intended missions, the United States would be temporarily unable to advance policy objectives in key regions, such as the South China Sea, and find itself at a disadvantage on the world stage.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Army, Department of Defense, or the United States Government.