Coronavirus: US Navy captain pleads for help over outbreak

The captain of a US aircraft carrier carrying more than 4,000 crew has called for urgent help to halt a coronavirus outbreak on his ship.

Scores of people on board the Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for the infection. The carrier is currently docked in Guam.

“We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die,” Captain Brett Crozier wrote in a letter to the Pentagon.

Captain Crozier recommended quarantining almost the entire crew.

In the letter Captain Crozier said that with large numbers of sailors living in confined spaces on the carrier isolating sick individuals was impossible.

The coronavirus’ spread was now “ongoing and accelerating”, he warned, in the letter dated 30 March.

“Decisive action is needed,” he said.

“Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed US nuclear aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure. This is a necessary risk.”

It is not clear how many crew members on the Theodore Roosevelt have the coronavirus. The San Francisco Chronicle, which first reported on the letter, said at least 100 sailors were infected.

Speaking to Reuters news agency, a US Navy spokesman said the service was “moving quickly to take all necessary measures to ensure the health and safety of the crew of USS Theodore Roosevelt”.


IMSC Enforces Safety Measures to Protect Members from COVID-19

Photo By NAVCENT Public Affairs | 200330-N-NO146-1002 MANAMA Bahrain (March 30, 2020) Service members assigned to the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) practice social distancing in the workspace. The IMSC ensures freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce in international waters throughout the Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, and the Gulf of Oman.



Courtesy Story

The International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) has been practicing several safety precautions to promote the health and safety of all its members with the recent COVID-19 outbreak.

No members of the IMSC have fallen ill to COVID-19 as of current.

“The well-being of IMSC personnel is critical to our mission,” said Commodore James Parkin, commander of Combined Task Force Sentinel, headquartered in Bahrain. “However, with a pandemic such as this, our people become the mission. We must ensure good health for the sake of their families and each other.”

Personnel supporting IMSC headquarters typically work in close quarters, however, as the need for social distancing has increased, so have the rules for how the day-to-day operations are conducted.

“Our operational tempo remains constant,” said Parkin. “fortunately our ships are unaffected and their mission continues. On shore, we have rescheduled meetings for mission-critical members only, reconfigured our work stations to allow a six-foot distance, and pay particular attention to the cleanliness of work stations and personal hygiene.”

Hand sanitizer, bleach wipes, anti-viral cleaning sprays, and soap and water are readily available throughout the work area. The team breaks at least four times per day to conduct cleaning stations.

The Multi-national, British-led IMSC deploys advanced capabilities through the region as part of a surveillance and detection effort, leading to de-escalation and deterrence through transparency. The IMSC ensures freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce in international waters throughout the Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, and the Gulf of Oman.


Lithuania Joins the International Maritime Security Construct

Persian Gulf/SoH



Courtesy Story

U.S. Naval Forces Central Command / U.S. 5th Fleet

MANAMA, Bahrain – The International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) welcomes Lithuania’s participation in the multinational efforts aimed at enhancing maritime security throughout key waterways in the Middle East.

Lithuania is the eighth member nation to join the IMSC since it formed in November 2019. Other members include Albania, Australia, Bahrain, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States.

The IMSC is enabling nations to work cooperatively to promote the free flow of commerce, deter threats to shipping, and enhance maritime domain awareness and surveillance in the Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hurmuz, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Gulf of Oman.

British Royal Navy Commodore James Parkin, the Commander of IMSC, expressed his appreciation to the Lithuanians for taking a leading role in regional security matters.

“As the eighth member of the IMSC, Lithuania joins us to ensure the safety of all our shipping in the Gulf region and we look forward to other nations joining our operation,” said Parkin. “Threats to the free flow of commerce are an international problem, and we are honoured that Lithuania is now part of the team assisting in upholding the principles of freedom of navigation.”


COVID-19 And Embarked Security Teams: Security At What Cost?

The outbreak of COVID-19, and the increasingly draconian measures taken by states to control the spread of the virus has led to the widespread disruption of global supply chains. The knock-on impact of restricting the placement of embarked security teams in the Indian Ocean has been keenly felt in the global shipping and security markets. The decision to embark security personnel requires operators to balance commercial considerations with the risks faced. In a world where the logistics of embarking security personnel has become increasingly complex, many of Dryad Global’s clients are considering their options and exploring alternatives.

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HMAS Toowoomba, FS Guépratte exercise in Gulf of Aden

HMAS Toowoomba, via Wikipedia

By: Sandy Milne

HMAS Toowoomba has exercised with French frigate FS Guépratte in the Gulf of Aden as part of the Australian warship’s support to Combined Task Force 150.

The CTF 150 mission is to stabilise the region by disrupting piracy operations, as well as seeking to counter weapon and narcotic smugglers. During the exercise, Toowoomba and Guépratte conducted ship handling training including Officer of the Watch manoeuvres and replenishment at sea (RAS) approaches, which form core components of a CTF deployment.

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India: Customs cracks down on fishing boats with Chinese tracking devices

By Toby Antony

KOCHI: To ensure the security of the coastline and prevent smuggling activities through the sea route, the Customs has launched a crackdown on fishing vessels operating from Kerala shores using China-made Automatic Identification System-tracking devices which are mandatory for vessels now.The decision was taken after multiple agencies raised concerns regarding security issues following fishing boats fitted with the Chinese AIS were found on the Kerala coast.

Recently, Customs Commissioner Sumit Kumar directed its marine units to intensify checking on fishing vessels which are not using the standard AIS recommended by the government.The marine units have already tracked down 18 such vessels operating from various harbours in Kerala.

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Covid-19 and the threat to maritime and port security

As the UK becomes the latest country to adopt a policy of restricted movement for its citizens, following (at least two metres behind) France, Spain and Italy in Europe, it’s important that we do not lose sight of the risks this presents.

Criminals and non-state threat actors do not necessarily follow health warnings and lockdown measures. If anything, they thrive in an environment like that. One example would be during WWII in the UK, where the German bombing of London turned the city into a criminals’ playground. During the four months of the London Blitz from September to December 1941, a total of 4,584 cases of looting were heard by the Old Bailey court, for example.

Organised crime and the black market flourished, and we should expect something similar to occur in maritime crime hot spots and High Risk Areas.

Over the weekend, seven crew were kidnapped in the Gulf of Guinea, which underlines the risk. In the coming weeks, we should expect further incidents and, should food and energy supply lines be further affected by the pandemic, port and terminal security should be stepped up to mitigate any risk at ports from criminal gangs. It is likely that oil theft will increase in the Delta, although the Nigerian Navy is already making efforts to mitigate this.

In the Indian Ocean, the risks presented by Somali pirates remain low, but still present. An increase in Covid-19 cases in the country could potentially lead to further economic issues which will then drive criminals on to the water to look for ‘easy’ money. Combine this with the current issues being experienced by maritime security companies trying to embark armed security teams and it’s easy to see just how badly wrong things could go.

Organised criminal gangs will be aware that regional and international naval forces will have difficulties with crew rotations, bunkering etc. and may choose to exploit the situation by increasing smuggling operations in the Arabian Sea.

In Yemen, Houthi rebels, already making their presence felt in recent weeks with SVBIEDs (boat bombs), may attempt to disrupt crucial shipping lanes in order to focus world attention on their plight.

It’s a long list of maybes. But mitigation and prevention should be a paramount concern for anyone involved in maritime security.

Finally, thank you all for continuing to support the blog. We’ve had a sharp increase in readers from around the world, and I appreciate your support, even if I’m not in a position to earn any money from this (and that would be rather useful at the moment, as I’ve also lost earnings due to the virus).

Keep well, keep apart and stay safe.