COVID-19 is beginning to have a decidedly negative effect on military readiness as time goes on. It was inevitable that cases would begin to crop up in fleets, air arms, and other service branches across the globe. As attractive as the idea of quarantining warship crews, aircrews, and soldiers until the pandemic burns out might be, it’s unrealistic. And given that the COVID-19 virus has a two-week incubation period, quarantining is only of limited value. Many nations have also mobilized military units to assist the response to the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent pandemic, so a large number of troops are right in the middle of things.
Cases are appearing in militaries around the world and its eating into the operational readiness of a growing number of nations. Of air, land, and naval forces, it seems navies are contending with the most significant amount of cases, and thus the greatest ramifications. To be fair, this conclusion is based in large part on publicly available data, and case numbers. Militaries are growing reluctant to report case numbers daily since it could compromise operational security. The United States has sensibly taken this line, as have a number of European nations.
For the US Navy, its readiness is being affected considerably by the pandemic. Cases have been reported on board no fewer than four aircraft carriers. The saga of the USS Theodore Roosevelt is well known, and given her present status it is safe to assume that the ship, her crew will not be operational for the foreseeable future. COVID cases will not be limited to aircraft carrier crews either. If sailors aboard the bird farms are infected, its almost certain that crewmen on other types of warships are too. In order to keep some combat assets healthy and intact, the US Navy has begun implementing fleet countermeasures. Restriction of movement has become a standard policy for ships’ crews, and a number of warships are presently sequestered for 14 days to ensure the health of their crews before getting underway.
France is also dealing with COVID cases aboard the French Navy’s flagship. The aircraft carrier Charles DeGaulle is currently returning to her homeport after dozens of crew members started showing signs of the virus. The carrier was scheduled to return to Toulon 23 April, but has been ordered back earlier as a result of the cases.