Onboard coronavirus outbreak forces Coast Guard cutter Stratton to return home to California

The Coast Guard cutter Stratton, seen here in 2011, returned to its homeport in Alameda, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020, after 11 crew members tested positive for the coronavirus.


By CAITLIN DOORNBOS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 18, 2020

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The Coast Guard cutter Stratton on Wednesday cut short its counter-narcotics patrol in the Eastern Pacific after 11 crew members tested positive for coronavirus, the service said in a statement Thursday.

The Stratton returned to its homeport in Alameda, Calif., three weeks after leaving for patrol Oct. 28 and after several crew members began showing virus symptoms Nov. 11-12, according to the Coast Guard.

Ill crew members were given rapid coronavirus tests and quarantined on board until returning home. They “reported mild symptoms and are receiving medical care,” according to the statement.

Once at Alameda, medical staff tested the cutter’s entire crew, which then went into quarantine, the Coast Guard said.

"The crew's health and safety is my highest priority," the Stratton’s commander, Capt. Bob Little, said in the statement. "Stratton has a highly resilient crew, always dedicated to the mission. Our mission today is to get healthy so we can continue our service to the nation."

It remained unclear Wednesday how the virus made it on board. The crew had undergone self-quarantines last month and had to pass two coronavirus tests before getting underway, according to the statement.

The Coast Guard did not say when the Stratton plans to return to sea. The 4,600-ton cutter can accommodate a crew of up to 170, according to the service.

“We continue to perform all statutory missions while taking the necessary precautions to protect our members and the public,” U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area commander Vice Adm. Linda Fagan said in the statement.

“We are committed to maintaining our operational readiness and will continue to perform critical missions that protect our national interests, promote economic prosperity and ensure public safety,” she added.

Twitter: @CaitlinDoornbos