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Reports: Destroyer USS Michael Murphy hit by COVID outbreak; quarter of crew infected

Sailors man the rails as the guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112) during the 75th Commemoration of the End of WWII. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Devin M. Langer/U.S. Navy)
November 20, 2020

Guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy is the latest U.S. Navy ship to be hit with a COVID-19 outbreak, officials revealed on Thursday.

Approximately one-quarter of the ship’s 300 crew members have tested positive for the virus and entered quarantine ashore in Hawaii, NBC News first reported, citing two military officials and once defense official.

USS Michael Murphy has been docked at Pearl Harbor while receiving maintenance and isn’t scheduled to deploy until 2021. The ship is now undergoing cleaning and sanitization efforts.

Cmdr. Nicole Schwegman, a spokesperson for Surface Forces Pacific, confirmed the outbreak in a statement to NBC News.

“Personnel assigned to USS Michael Murphy tested positive for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19), Nov. 4,” Schwegman said. “Personnel who have tested positive for Covid-19 have been placed in isolation. Out of an abundance of caution, all close contacts and non-essential crew members are undergoing a two-week self-isolation period in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.”

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USS Michael Murphy is named for the Afghanistan War hero and Medal of Honor recipient, Navy SEAL Michael P. Murphy, who was killed by enemy fire during a four-man reconnaissance team while attempting radio communications for support. The ship was commissioned in 2012.

COVID outbreaks aboard U.S. ships aren’t uncommon, as numerous vessels have been affected recently, and earlier this year.

Another ship docked at Pearl Harbor for maintenance, USS Wayne E. Meyer, also reported COVID cases among crew members.

Coast Guard Cutter Stratton suspended its deployment after just three weeks and returned to port on Wednesday after 11 crew members tested positive for COVID-19, NBC News reported.

A major outbreak hit aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in March, impacting more than 1,100 crew members, resulting in at least three hospitalizations and one death. It was the first outbreak to affect a Navy ship, and the first outbreak in a deployed naval vessel.

USS Kidd also had a major outbreak in April, marking the second major U.S. Navy ship outbreak, in which more than 100 crew members were affected.

The U.S. military has now reached a record high number of COVID-19 cases, reporting 1,314 new cases on Tuesday alone. The Department reported 25,000 active cases overall.