EVERETT — Sailors aboard an Everett-based destroyer, the USS Kidd, docked Tuesday afternoon at a naval base in San Diego, after 64 crew members tested positive for COVID-19.
It wasn’t clear Tuesday when the ship could return to its home port.
In March, a sailor from a different Naval Station Everett ship, the USS Ralph Johnson, tested positive for coronavirus. The Navy did not disclose the last time the person was on base or aboard ship but said the vessel had “extensive cleaning.” Those who came in contact with the sailor were notified, and the patient recovered at home.
A Stanwood-based group supplied that ship with hundreds of handmade cloth face masks earlier this month.
The Kidd and the Ralph Johnson each have a crew of around 300.
The Kidd is the second Navy ship to experience a coronavirus outbreak while deployed, following the USS Theodore Roosevelt of San Diego, an aircraft carrier with a crew of about 3,000. About a third of the Roosevelt crew has been infected, according to the Navy. One sailor has died.
The Kidd reached San Diego around 1 p.m. Tuesday, according to a Facebook post by executive officer Cmdr. Matt Noland.
“We aren’t out of the woods yet, but having top-notch medical facilities close at hand should be a relief to anyone who’s worried,” Noland wrote. “Your sailors will soon contact you directly and let you know how they are doing.”
The ship was participating in an operation to stop drug trafficking near South America and had been at sea since January, Navy Office of Information newsdesk director Lt. Cmdr. Megan Isaac said in an email.
The Kidd’s first case of COVID-19 was confirmed Thursday.
By Tuesday afternoon, 63% of the crew had been tested. All are expected to be tested eventually, Isaac said.
The ship is scheduled to be cleaned and disinfected in San Diego. That process could take up to two weeks, according to a news release.
“San Diego may not be USS Kidd’s home port, but we are definitely being made to feel at home,” the ship’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Nathan Wemett, said in the news release.
According to updated guidelines released by the Navy, each ship should have a supply of personal protective equipment, such as masks, gloves and eye protection.
On March 16, the crew member on Ralph Johnson became the first known Navy sailor in Washington to contract the virus.
The Ralph Johnson has N95 masks, goggles and other face coverings on board, said Cmdr. Patrick Evans, a spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
“Let me be clear, it is not business as usual,” he said. “Our ships are enforcing social distancing, minimizing group gatherings, wearing PPE and cleaning extensively. But just as important, we stress to our leaders, if they are not getting what they need, don’t suffer in silence. Get the word up the chain of command. We have their back.”
In April, a woman with ties to the ship began a campaign to supply sailors with face masks. Eventually, she was connected with a group of sewers near Stanwood and Camano Island, including Miriam Lancaster, who helps run the Stanwood-Camano Island chapter of Days for Girls. The nonprofit provides handmade menstrual supplies for girls and women around the world.
She asked for help to make the masks in a post on the online neighborhood message board Nextdoor, and then left a bin outside of her house near Lake Ketchum where people could drop them off, to avoid contact.
Lancaster supplied fabrics and elastic for some people so they didn’t have to purchase their own materials. Many of the masks ended up having nautical or super-hero prints.
“I understand they really liked the Captain America ones,” Lancaster said.
In four days she gathered 700 masks. She isn’t sure how many people helped because most of the work was done anonymously at each person’s home.
After the group made the donation, they received a letter from the USS Ralph Johnson’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Rob Biggs.
“The time and effort you devoted to making us all safer is truly appreciated,” he wrote.
Lancaster and the rest of the group have also donated masks to Josephine Caring Community in Stanwood, where an outbreak of COVID-19 had sickened 34 people as of Tuesday, as well as the Navajo Nation, a Native American territory covering parts of in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
The Navy has posted recommendations online for reducing the spread of COVID-19 on ships. All are advised to wear protective gear if the virus makes its way on board.
One section of the guidelines reads: “Because physical (social) distancing is challenging onboard ships, cloth face coverings should be worn by all crewmembers at all times to the maximum extent practical.”