The Roosevelt nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is one of 11 US aircraft carriers in active service. On March 24, 2020, the first three confirmed patients with the new coronavirus appeared on the USS Roosevelt aircraft carrier that was on a mission in the Western Pacific. On March 28, the USS Roosevelt was forced to suspend its mission and arrived in Guam. As of April 24, among all 4,865 crew members, the number of diagnoses reached 840, and the dismissed captain Colonel Crozer became one of the diagnosed. From March 24th to 28th, in just 4 days, the damage effect of the new coronavirus on the aircraft carrier Roosevelt even exceeded the saturation coverage of precision-made missiles. This cannot but be said to be the major crisis facing the USS Roosevelt and even the US Navy. The measures taken by the US Navy in response to the crisis have revealed possible changes in the US Navy.
Roosevelt’s itinerary and mission
The aircraft carrier USS Roosevelt uses the largest military port of the US Pacific Fleet, namely San Diego Port on the west coast of the United States and the East Pacific as the home port. This voyage to the Western Pacific was due to the US Pacific Fleet’s USS Reagan with Japan’s Yokosuka as the home port to begin maintenance in November 2019. It is expected that repairs will not be completed until May 2020, and it will have mission capabilities. At the same time, the US military deployed in the North Arabian Sea region, the Truman aircraft carrier, in order to respond to the crisis situation in the Middle East at any time, and other aircraft carriers have their own tasks or are maintaining and cannot perform their duties.
On January 17, 2020, the Roosevelt aircraft carrier and escort ship formed the ninth aircraft carrier strike group and left San Diego port. On February 7, a fleet consisting of the USS Roosevelt and the missile cruiser Bunker Hill and the 11th Carrier Wing arrived in Guam, the southernmost U.S. overseas territory of the Mariana Islands in the Western Pacific. After rest and replenishment, he arrived in the waters near Okinawa on February 15. On February 17, it entered the South China Sea via the Bus Strait.
On March 5, the Roosevelt aircraft carrier and fleet arrived at the anchorage in Da Nang, Vietnam. During the visit to Vietnam, American sailors went off for vacation. At the same time, the navy officers and men of the United States and Vietnam conducted exchange activities, including a welcome ceremony held at the Vietnamese terminal, American sailors went to Danang community and charity center for condolences, and invited local Vietnamese media, people and Vietnamese officers and men to board Roosevelt No. visit and exchange.
At that time, there were only 16 confirmed cases of new coronary pneumonia in Vietnam, all from northern Vietnam, and the patients were isolated and treated in Hanoi. U.S. Naval Operations Secretary Admiral Mike Gildy explained to the media on March 24: “It was after the’low-risk assessment of the Vietnam epidemic at that time that the Roosevelt was visiting Hong Kong as usual.” That’s why Although the Roosevelt sailor said that after the Vietnamese personnel left, the relevant activity area was carefully disinfected, but during various exchange activities, the US warships did not take strict epidemic prevention measures, and neither the US nor Vietnam wore masks.
The Roosevelt aircraft carrier and its formation ended their visit to Vietnam and went to the South China Sea area again. On March 15th, the USS Roosevelt, the American amphibious assault ship, the Green Bay amphibious dock landing ship and other ships carried out joint exercises in the South China Sea. The main exercise content was the use of expeditionary strike forces. Specific projects include carrier-based aircraft takeoff and landing, surface ship support, as well as nuclear, biological and chemical protection, light weapon shooting, and Marine Corps temporary inspection ships.
Roosevelt visits Da Nang
Roosevelt’s former captain Crozer
Thereafter, the USS Roosevelt led the fleet out of the South China Sea and reached the Philippine Sea. On March 17, the supply ships along with the fleet provided marine supplies to the battleships such as the USS Roosevelt. On March 18, the USS Roosevelt carried out joint sea-air exercises with the B-52H bomber and F-15C fighter from the 69th Expeditionary Bomber Squadron of the US Air Force. On March 24, the USS Roosevelt and large-scale warships such as the American amphibious assault ship, the Blue Ridge amphibious command ship, and the Green Bay amphibious dock landing ship launched joint exercises in the Philippine Sea.
It can be seen that Roosevelt’s trip to the Western Pacific has a very important mission; not only has he carried out military diplomatic activities such as visiting other countries, but also has a large formation force, long sailing distance, wide sea coverage, many drill projects, and complex content. The United States organized and implemented such complex and high-intensity military activities during the sensitive period of the epidemic.
While the Roosevelt led the fleet in full military operations, the new crown epidemic has quietly boarded the ship. In response to the possible outbreak on the USS Roosevelt, on March 14, the US Navy equipped the USS Roosevelt and other ships with personnel and equipment from the Naval Medical Research Center’s mobile laboratory, equipped with a rapid new coronavirus for crew members who experienced symptoms on the ship. The ability to detect and do emergency treatment.
On March 24, the first three patients diagnosed with the new coronavirus appeared on the aircraft carrier Roosevelt. On the 25th, another 5 soldiers were diagnosed. On the 26th, 25 patients were diagnosed with new coronary pneumonia on the aircraft carrier. Captain Crozer quickly reported the disease on board. Acting U.S. Navy Secretary Thomas Modley ordered the Roosevelt to sail to Guam.
On March 28, the aircraft carrier Roosevelt arrived in Guam. Due to insufficient assessment of the seriousness of the incident by the US Navy and poor coordination with the local government of Guam, only confirmed sailors were allowed to go ashore for isolation treatment. The vast majority of sailors were required to remain on the Roosevelt for 14 days of quarantine.
In response, Thomas Modley, acting Secretary of the US Navy, explained that “the aircraft carrier Roosevelt has weapons, fuel, nuclear reactors, and expensive ship-borne fighters, so everyone cannot leave”, emphasizing that even When docking in Guam, the normal operation and combat capability of the USS Roosevelt carrier must still be maintained.
In view of the serious outbreak of the Roosevelt, Captain Brett Crozer was very dissatisfied with the slow response of the Admiralty and Guam. Crozer believes that the minimum operation of an aircraft carrier can be maintained by only 10% of the 4,865 people on board. The evacuation of most of the crew is not only necessary to protect the health of the crew, but also facilitates the disinfection of the entire aircraft carrier. The Diamond Princess cruise ship has isolation cabins, and 80% of the 3,700 tourists are still infected. All the crew of the Roosevelt lived intensively in a confined space below the deck, and the virus infection rate will be higher. Two days later, the number of confirmed crew members surged to nearly 200.
The outbreak of the epidemic caused Captain Crozer’s extraordinary behavior. On March 30, Crozer sent a letter of disobedience and “forced palace” to the Admiralty. The main content of the letter includes: based on the current number of confirmed (aircraft carrier crew), every sailor, regardless of official rank, should be regarded as a “close contact”; if the current status is continued, the best results of the Roosevelt will be better than the diamond The Princess is even worse; it is not necessary to let the sailors die like this when the war is not at present; if you do not take immediate action, it will be a disregard for the life and health of the sailors.
Out of dissatisfaction with the admiralty bureaucracy and the use of social forces, Crozer also sent letters of help to some of his friends. This led to the content of the letter being disclosed in the “San Francisco Chronicle” on March 31 with the title “Request for assistance in responding to the new coronary pneumonia epidemic”. The public concern caused by the letter disclosure prompted the Navy to increase the intensity and progress of virus detection and transfer to the island.
However, the Admiralty was furious at Crozer’s approach. On April 2, Acting Secretary of the United States Thomas Modley announced that Crozer had lifted command of the USS Roosevelt. When Crozer left the Roosevelt, thousands of sailors saluted, and more than 200,000 netizens thought that Crozer was a hero who saved the lives of the crew. . Crozer, who left the company, was immediately diagnosed, at least proving his loyalty to his duties and his estimate of the severity of the epidemic.
Influence on the construction of US naval combat platform
As the hard power that supports US global hegemony, the US military’s long-range mobile combat capabilities are essential. Among the three armies, both the Army and the Air Force rely on land bases, which severely limits the usability and mobility of the US Army. The aircraft carrier and its formation can not only bring their own support ships to a certain degree of self-protection, but also coordinate the supply, rest and support at ports in other countries without the need for bases.
This makes the aircraft carrier and its combat formations a true long-range mobile combat force, not only with actual combat capabilities, but also forming a powerful deterrent, and even becoming a powerful image representative of the United States. From a political point of view, whenever the United States encounters a crisis, needs to demonstrate national strength and achieve key strategic goals, the use of aircraft carriers and formations is often the first consideration of the President of the United States, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. From a military perspective, an aircraft carrier is a true long-range maneuvering force of the US military, and plays a decisive role for the US military with global presence, global mobility, and global coverage.
The main combat force of the aircraft carrier is the carrier-based aviation wing, including an early warning aircraft squadron, which provides up to several hundred kilometers for the aircraft carrier combat formation, plus the long-distance air defense early warning capability of the early warning aircraft can reach thousands of kilometers; A squadron of electronic warfare aircraft provides the necessary electronic cover for the modern air combat after the carrier-based aircraft is launched; plus first-class combat aircraft such as the active F/A-18 Hornet or the future F-35C Lightning II, etc., A total of about 80. In addition, the aircraft carrier combat formation also includes several surface destroyers such as missile destroyers and frigates, as well as underwater submarine squadrons, etc.; after joining the landing ships and the Marine Corps required for amphibious operations, the aircraft carrier combat formation covers land, sea, and air amphibious combat platforms , Can form a three-dimensional combat system, and then conduct combat against sea, land, air, or air-sea, air-ground, land-sea, land-sea-air joint combat missions.
People wearing masks are moving supplies to the Roosevelt
However, the impact of the new crown epidemic on the naval combat platform far exceeds the Army and Air Force. The serious impact of the epidemic on the aircraft carrier Roosevelt will inevitably affect the construction and preparation of the navy thereafter.
First of all, with the development of artificial intelligence technology, the operational use of intelligent unmanned combat platforms has been increasingly widespread. Unmanned surface ships and underwater unmanned cruisers have become actual combat platforms on the battlefield. The epidemic takes humans as the carrier and target of attack, and it will surely become the pusher for unmanned combat platforms to accelerate into the battlefield. Try to use unmanned platforms, or through the mixed use of unmanned platforms and manned platforms, to reduce the number of combatants and reduce the density of battlefield personnel, will become the natural choice for responding to the epidemic.
Secondly, for large combat platforms that are difficult to fully realize unmanned, epidemic prevention design and structural improvement will be added. Large and highly complex combat platforms, such as aircraft carriers and strategic nuclear submarines, cannot be fully unmanned for a while. Well, try to strengthen the unmanned design, that is, replace some battle positions with artificial intelligence systems, in order to reduce personnel density, it is a consideration. At the same time, the existing aircraft carriers and submarines basically adopt a unified central ventilation system, which leads to diseases transmitted by the airway and through the respiratory tract, which cannot be prevented in confined and high-density spaces. Then, it is a possible choice to carry out proper zoning design to provide basic conditions for zoning prevention after the epidemic.
Finally, design isolation sites and facilities for epidemic prevention on large-scale offshore combat platforms. During the epidemic, the US Navy equipped the Roosevelt aircraft carrier and other personnel and equipment of the Naval Medical Research Center’s mobile laboratory for the purpose of epidemic prevention, but these measures did not produce the desired results. The true anti-epidemic design should have the same independent air system, drainage system, space negative pressure and other environmental conditions as on land, as well as the drugs, personnel, equipment and facilities required to detect and treat patients. For the US Navy, this is not only a challenge that must be faced, but also a problem to be solved.
The epidemic is an alternative test of combat capability. The combat capabilities and operational use during the epidemic are important references for determining the status and role of relevant combat platforms. For naval combat platforms such as aircraft carriers and submarines that are confined in space and crowded, their operational use during the epidemic will inevitably become a factor for the US Navy to evaluate combat effectiveness and determine construction priorities thereafter. Although the future changes of the US Navy have not been fully presented, it will certainly be the result of a comprehensive consideration including the above factors.