The USS Kidd departs Naval Base San Diego on Wednesday. Navy photo

The USS Kidd departed San Diego Wednesday morning to continue its scheduled deployment after arriving in the city in April with multiple sailors testing positive for COVID-19.

The U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer was conducting counter-drug operations off the Pacific coast of South America in mid-April when sailors began exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.

One sailor was evacuated to the mainland United States on April 22 after experiencing shortness of breath. The amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island was directed to rendezvous with the Kidd, transferring eight medical personnel from its medical facility — along with an intensive care unit, ventilators and additional testing capacity — to begin testing sailors for COVID-19 the following day.

As Navy leaders solidified plans to return the ship to port, sailors who warranted closer observation were transported from Kidd to Makin Island out of an abundance of caution. An additional sailor was medically evacuated to the U.S. Meanwhile, the ship’s crew began intensive cleaning efforts.

While in San Diego, the ship underwent a strategic deep-cleaning that balanced decontamination with preventing damage to the ship’s critical systems, Navy officials said.

The Kidd is scheduled to return to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility to continue its mission of counter-drug operations.

“I am extremely proud of my crew and their coordination with Navy Region Southwest, U.S. Surface Forces Pacific and U.S. Third Fleet as we navigated through our COVID-19 outbreak on board,” said Cmdr. Nathan Wemett, Kidd’s commanding officer. “The strength of the bond throughout the Navy communities ensured we safely and effectively disembarked the crew, disinfected the ship, re-embarked the crew and will be able to continue our mission out at sea.”

As of April 28, 47 sailors on the ship had tested positive for COVID- 19, according to the Navy. Two sailors were flown ashore to the U.S. and another 15 were moved to the San Diego-based Makin Island.

Kidd is assigned to U.S. 3rd Fleet, which leads naval forces in the Pacific. The vessel’s home port is Everett, Wash., and it has a crew of more than 300.

–City News Service

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