Portion of Mayport-based US Navy warship crew isolates after COVID-19 outbreak

A U.S. Navy warship is battling a Covid outbreak. The crew of the U.S.S. Milwaukee is 100% vaccinated but the outbreak has forced it to stay in port after a scheduled stop in Cuba barely one week into its deployment.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An unexpected coronavirus outbreak on the Navy warship U.S.S. Milwaukee based out of Mayport.

An unspecified portion of the ship’s 105-person crew is in isolation Sunday aboard the ship at Naval Station Guantánamo Bay, Cuba according to Commander Kate Meadows, a spokeswoman for U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command.

In a partial statement Meadows confirmed:

“Some of the personnel who tested positive for the virus have displayed mild symptoms.”

However, there is no confirmation that the outbreak is the omicron strain.

The warship paused its deployment to South America because of the outbreak, the Navy said Friday.

The USS Milwaukee, a litorral combat ship, is staying in port at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, where it had stopped for a scheduled port visit. It began its deployment from Mayport on December 14 and was heading into the U.S. Southern Command region.

The Navy said in a statement that the ship's crew is “100% immunized” and that all of those who tested positive for COVID-19 have been isolated on the ship away from other crew members. The number of crew testing positive was not disclosed. The ship has a crew of a little more than 100.

COVID-19 cases have surged across the country as a result of the highly contageous omicron variant.

“The ship is following an aggressive mitigation strategy in accordance with Navy and CDC guidelines,” the Navy said.

The first major military outbreak of the virus was early last year on a Navy warship, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier that was operating in the Pacific. The Roosevelt was sidelined in Guam for nearly two months, and more than 1,000 of the 4,800 crew members tested positive. One sailor died, and the entire crew went through weeks of quarantine in a rotation that kept enough sailors on the ship to keep it safe and running.

According to the latest data released by the Navy, more than 98% of all active duty sailors have been fully vaccinated.

Officials have not confirmed if any of those on board have received a booster shot.

About the Authors:

This native of the Big Apple joined the News4Jax team in July 2021.