Destroyer USS Kidd returns to sea after six weeks in port dealing with coronavirus outbreak

A sailor returns to the guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd at Naval Base San Diego after completing a coronavirus quarantine, June 5, 2020.


By WYATT OLSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 10, 2020

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The USS Kidd got underway Wednesday from San Diego after being sidelined at port since late April dealing with a coronavirus outbreak.

The guided-missile destroyer is scheduled to return to its mission supporting counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific Ocean in the U.S. Southern Command’s area of responsibility, the Navy said in a statement Wednesday.

Kidd was one of the two Navy ships hit hardest by the coronavirus. The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt spent two months in port on Guam contending with an outbreak that infected more than 1,150 sailors, killing one. The carrier returned to regular operations last week.

Kidd arrived at Naval Base San Diego on April 28 to provide medical care for those among the roughly 330 crew members who contracted the coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 respiratory disease.

The Navy has not disclosed the exact number of Kidd crew members who tested positive.

A skeleton caretaker crew remained aboard the ship as its sailors went ashore for treatment and quarantine. On May 19, 90 sailors confirmed to be free of the virus relieved the caretakers.

The ship’s crew had begun a regimen of deep cleaning the ship even before docking in April, and it was thoroughly disinfected while in San Diego, the statement said.

In an open letter to the San Diego region, Cmdr. Nathan Wemett, the Kidd’s commanding officer, thanked the local community for helping the crew with recovery and return to sea.

“Our priority was — and remains — to take care of our Sailors,” he said. “The San Diego region helped us do that by extending your collective arms and helping us respond to and recover from this insidious virus.

“With the care of military and local health professionals, as well as support from military leadership, shipmates along the waterfront, and area businesses, we fought this invisible enemy and cleaned our ship.”

Wemett specifically cited support received from the US Makin Island, USS Shoup, USS Stockdale, USNS Miguel Keith and other Navy personnel.

Twitter: @WyattWOlson

The USS Kidd departs San Diego on Wednesday, June 10, 2020. The guided-missile destroyer had been at Naval Base San Diego since April 28 because of a coronavirus outbreak.