Return to site

YCAPS Tracks COVID-19 News Relating to 7th Fleet and U.S. Navy Bases in Japan

Latest update: 0700JST, 17 Apr 2020

YCAPS President John Bradford, a Council on Foreign Relations-Hitachi Fellow at Japan's National Graduate Institute of Policy Studies, is keeping this log of major news events involving COVID-19 and its impacts on the U.S. 7th Fleet and the U.S. Navy bases in Japan. The goal is to focus create a simple reference with links to original documents or, when those are not available, neutral fact-based reporting. Please send requests for information or recommendation for edits and updates to Members of the base communities in Japan should not rely on this for guidance, but instead follow the instructions and recommendations of government authorities and, in the case of military personnel, their chain of command.

19 Jan - USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) departs San Diego for an Indo-Pacific Deployment

28 Feb - the Pacific Fleet Commander announced that his ships would stay at sea for 14 days between port visits and not allow liberty if a crew member was showing symptoms.

28 Feb - the CDC declares Japan a level 2 country: Practice Enhanced Precautions.

5-9 Mar- Theodore Roosevelt makes a port visit to Danang ( The was the second time a CVN had visited Vietnam post-war and was timed to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the normalization of relations between the United States and Vietnam. Prior to the port visit, the WHO had only identified 20 COVID-19 case in Vietnam, all in Hanoi. Chris Sharman, previous the U.S. Naval Attaché in Vietnam offered his analysis of this event: “Even Coronavirus Couldn’t Stop the 2nd US Carrier Visit to Vietnam.” 

8 Mar - Vietnamese media reports that 9 COVID-19 cases in Vietnam, including two British tourist in Danag where Theodore Roosevelt is docked.

March 10 and onward: Personnel fly on and off Theodore Roosevelt as part of normal operations. According to a WSJ report these flight were between the ship to Vietnam, Japan, and the Phillipines. 

11 Mar - SECDEF issues a 14-day self-quarantine for all DoD-personnel traveling to, from or via CDC Travel Health Notice Level 2 (COVID-19) countries.

13 Mar – SECDEF directs stop movement for all family members to CDC Travel Health Notice Level 2 (COVID-19) designated countries for 60 days.

14 MarSECNAV issues new restrictions on travel by personnel within CONUS.

March 15: A sailor aboard USS Boxer (LHD-4) in port San Diego becomes the first known COVID-19 case aboard a U.S. Navy warship.

16 Mar – The City of Yokosuka confirms its first COVID-19 case, a 70-year old woman working as a nurse. The base directs the gate guards to stop touching the IDs being shown for entry.

19 Mar- DoD schools in Japan announced they will be closed and teaching students remotely 23 Mar- 13 Apr (later revised to indefinite closure).

20 Mar – U.S. State Dept sets global level 4 travel advisory: Avoid Nonessential Travel. 

20 Mar- DoD authorizes civilian employees and eligible family members at high risk of poor health outcome if exposed to COVID-10 to depart their duty stations. Authorized departure is a voluntary program whereby U.S. government employees and eligible dependents that are stationed abroad are permitted to depart a foreign area at government expense

20 Mar – visitor access to the base in Yokosuka is suspended except for certain exceptions.

22 Mar- CDC puts Japan at Warning Level 3: Avoid Nonessential Travel

23 Mar – CNO releases NAVADMIN083/20, the CNO guidance pertaining to the COVID-19 response. It includes direction to stop movement or isolate those meeting certain exposure criteria.

23 Mar- some restaurants on the Yokosuka base change their service to take-out only. Base barbershop announces its closure for the next 14 days.

22 Mar - According to CNO, the first Sailor onboard Theodore Roosevelt test positive for COVID-19. Shortly thereafter two sailors with COVID-19 symptoms and positive tests were flown off the ship to the naval hospital in Guam

25 Mar – Commander Naval Forces Japan implements INDO-PACOM’s setting of Health Protection Condition C. Sailors were told to just travel between work and home. No liberty is allowed. “All off-base restaurants, bars, cafes, night clubs and like establishments, indoor fitness facilities, onsens and public baths are off limits.” Off-base taxis are forbidden from entering the Yokosuka base.

26 Mar - a Sailor on the Yokosuka base tests positive for COVID-19. He had come to Japan from the US on 15 Mar and had been isolated since arrival in accordance with the 11 Mar DoD guidance.

26 Mar - the cruiser Antietam returned up to Yokosuka, but the crew was held onboard, presumably to prevent cross-contamination. Boxes were placed on the pier where people could drop things off for the Sailors onboard.

27 Mar – after two additional Sailors (bringing the total to 3) on the U.S. Navy base in Yokosuka tested positive, the base commander ordered a shelter in place: only essential personnel go to work, all hands stay inside except for essential shopping and medical care. For the weekend, the commissary was open, but the exchange was shut (the only source for nicotine or alcohol sales!), individuals who reside on base generally weren’t allowed to exit, and outdoor exercise was forbidden on the base. Since then the shelter in place has been extended, but some exchange services have been restored, outdoor runs are allowed, and kids living in apartments can play in open spaces (playgrounds remain shut).

27 Mar -Theodore Roosevelt arrives in Guam for what the Navy states is a scheduled port visit.

27 Mar -U.S. Army Japan reveals its first positive coronavirus case, a dependent who had been restricted to quarters since returning from the United States on March 19.

30 Mar - Caitlin Doornbos confirmed earlier reports that 2 Sailors who had tested positive for COVID-19 were from the Yokosuka carrier Ronald Reagan which had been inport Yokosuka for maintenance since Nov 2019.

31 Mar - news broke about the Commanding Officer of the CVN Theodore Roosevelt requesting (demanding) additional support. Sam LaGrone reported on this matter and repu31 Mar -

31 Mar - Sam Lagrone reports on a call with reporters the Pacific Fleet commander held after the publication of Crozier’s memo.

2 Apr – Acting SECNAV Modly, announces his decision to relieve the Commanding Officer of USS Theodore Roosevelt, Captain Crozier, for loss of trust and confidence and that, the Chief of Naval Operations has directed the Vice Chief of Naval Operations to conduct an investigation into the circumstances and climate of the entire Pacific Fleet.

3 Apr – The Sasebo Base Commander reports that a COVID-19 case on the base said that the person have been in quarantine “since they arrived in Sasebo.” Sasebo City is reported as now having three cases.

3 Apr – The Makin Island Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG) sails from San Diego after a 14-day quarantine period with bespoke social distancing procedures and preplanned responses designed for optimum readiness during the pandemic. Reports state the ARG will be doing workup exercises.

3 Apr – Tweed Roosevelt, a great-grandson of Theodore Roosevelt, publishes an opinion in the New York Times titled, “Captain Crozier is a Hero.

4 Apr – A video for Captain Crozier departing Theodore Roosevelt with hundreds of Sailors goes viral.

5 Apr New York Times reports that, according to two off his Naval Academy classmates, Captain Crozier has tested position for COVID-19.

5 Apr – Per NAVADMIN 100/20, all Individuals on DoD property, installations, and facilities are required to wear cloth face coverings when they cannot maintain six feet of social distance.

6 Apr – Acting SecNav Modly visits the Theodore Roosevelt and addresses the entire crew via the 1MC general announcing system. Transcripts quickly go viral on social media and are cover by traditional news outlets. A recording is available here on Soundcloud.

6 Apr – The U.S. Forces Japan commander announced a Public Health Emergency for the Kanto Plains region. The declaration expands commanders authorities to enforce compliance health protection measures among military, civilians, and contractors who live and work on U.S. installations.

6 Apr President Trump was asked about Modly’s speech on Theodore Roosevelt. “I may just get involved… You have two good people and they’re arguing. I’m good, believe it or not, at settling arguments,” Trump told reporters, “I may look into it in detail and I will be able to figure it out very fast.” Sam LaGrone’s report.

7 Apr – Acting SECNAV Modly responds to the 3 Apr Tweed Roosevelt letter with his own letter to the New York Times. Most reports characterize this letter as an apology, but some call it a defense.

7 Apr – The Yokosuka base begins limiting non-mission essential personnel access to the base to 0900-1900. Non-missional essential movement are only allowed for specific activities. These must be declared to the sentries and logged with a tracking form.

7 Apr Naval Air Facility Atsugi issues a shelter-in-place with only mission-essential person being allowed to work and visits for essential goods and services being limited to regular business hours.

7 Apr – Acting SECNAV Modly submits his resignation to SecDef. SecDef appoints current Army Undersecretary Jim McPherson as acting Secretary of the Navy. LaGrone’s report includes both original letters. Acting SECNAV Modly also sends a final message to all commands in the Navy (ALNAV 038/20) explaining his actions and providing guidance on making communications appropriately visible.

8 Apr Stars & Stripes' Caitlin Doornbos reports that across the Navy, 548 service members have contracted the illness. 286 of those are Roosevelt sailors, the update said. Nearly all the ship’s crew has been tested, with 10% coming back positive. None have been hospitalized.

9 Apr A Theodore Roosevelt COVID-19 sailor was admitted to the Naval Hospital Guam ICU. Theodore Roosevelt COVID-19 tests show 416 positive cases (187 symptomatic and 229 asymptomatic) and 3,170 negative results.

9 Apr – The Navy issues a COVID-19 Prevention Framework and Mitigation Framework to Protect the Force and Preserve War Fighting Readiness.

10 Apr – U.S. Army Japan announces its second COVID-19 posititive individual, a Japanese employee whose work place is not specificied in the announcement.

12 Apr 550 crewmembers of the Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a post on the Navy's website.

13 Apr 1st crewmember of Theodore Roosevelt dies of COVID-19 complications. This is the second death of a DoD-related individual. The Navy report indicates it is the same patient who was moved to ICU on 9 Apr.

13 Apr - DoD data shows that the number of U.S. military-linked individuals had tested positive for COVID-19 has reached 4,500 and that there has been a 26% spike in cases reported since 10 Apr.

13 Apr – Japanese and Taiwan Ministries of Defense report that a Chinese aircraft carrier passed from the East China Sea through the Miyako Strait and east of Taiwan. Both the JMSDF and Taiwan Navies are reported as having reacted by assigning escort forces. According to the US Navy facebook page, USS America is operating with F-35s onboard in the East China Sea.

13 Apr According to a Stars & Stripes report, the U.S. base command officer in Sasebo shared via Facebook that he had barred two civilians from the base after violating rules. One was a spouse working in a bar in violation of standing SOFA-related rules. The other was patronizing the bar in violation of pandemic-related restrictions. Note: The USFJ Public Health Emergency is only for the Kanto Plain bases so does not include Sasebo.

14 Apr – The Navy reports that four Theodore Roosevelt Sailors have been moved to the hospital, with one being in the ICU for shortness of breath

15 Apr U.S. Force Japan expands the scope of its Public Health Emergency to include all of Japan. Stars & Stripes report here.

15 Apr – Defense Secretary Esper says in an interview with Fox News that the USS Theodore Roosevelt could be back at sea in weeks. He also says that the investigation into the handling of COVID-19 on the carrier was completed last week. The Navy announces COVID-19 cases among the crew increases to 615 sailors with an additional Sailor being hospitalized. Stars & Stripes report.

16 Apr – A sixth sailor assigned to Theodore Roosevelt and fighting the coronavirus is reported as having been hospitalized in Guam. COVID-19 positives among the Theodore Roosevelt Sailors now 655.

16 Apr – The Navy confirms that the Theodore Roosevelt Sailor who died was 41-year old Aviation Ordnanceman Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker Jr. Thacker is the first U.S. active-duty service member to die from the global COVID-19 pandemic.

18 Apr– USS America (LHA 6), USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), USS Barry (DDG 52) in HMAS Parramatta (FFG 154) conduct bilateral operations in the South China Sea.

24 Apr - US Navy leadership breifed the Secretary of Defense on the result of a preliminary investigation regarding command actions onboard announced USS Theodore Roosevelt during the COVID-19 outbreak. Chief of Naval Operations Gilday and acting Navy Secretary McPherson go on record that the support restoring CAPT Crozier to command. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Milley recommends delaying decision until completion of the command investigation.

20 Apr – III MEF instructs Marines on Okinawa to prepare for 72-hour shelter in place order. Stars & Stripes report.

27 Apr – COVID-19 positive cases rise to 995 after the Navy revises its testing procedure.

27 Apr – Aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) departed Bremerton, Washington for its final pre-deployment training event. Nimitz is expected to remain at sea after completing its Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) off the coast of San Diego and not return to port ahead of its deployment as a way to reduce the risk of exposing the crew to the COVID-19 virus.

20 May - USS Theodore Roosevelt got underway with a scaled-back crew of about 3,000 sailors, leaving roughly 1,800 crew ashore in Guam.

21 June - USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Nimitz exercise in the Philippine Sea. Stars & Stripes report.

19 June - Navy releases the command investigation regarding command actions onboard announced USS Theodore Roosevelt during the COVID-19 outbreak. It also confirmed that Capt. Crozier, will not be reinstated to lead the ship, will not be eligible for future command and faces additional administrative punishment that will be overseen by U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday explained that removal was justified based on his performance after the initial outbreak occurred on the carrier. Additionally, the promotion of Rear Adm. Stuart Baker, who served as the TR carrier strike group commander at the time of the outbreak, to a two-star admiral is on hold pending further investigation. This USNI News report provides more detail and includes he entire command investigation report.