• At WEST 2020, the sea service chiefs discuss the impact of the coronavirus on operations. Photo by Michael Carpenter
     At WEST 2020, the sea service chiefs discuss the impact of the coronavirus on operations. Photo by Michael Carpenter

Sea Services Maintain Vigilance About Coronavirus

March 2, 2020
By Robert K. Ackerman
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Precautionary measures have been taken, others are contemplated.


The global progression of the coronavirus has caused the sea services to cut back on some activities and cancel others as they increase their surveillance of the disease’s spread. Their efforts include monitoring cross-border activities that could involve the spread of the virus into the United States.

The top news story around the globe led off discussions at WEST 2020, the conference and exposition in San Diego March 2-3 co-sponsored by AFCEA International and USNI. The conference began with a discussion among the sea service chiefs, and the coronavirus was the first topic they addressed.

Gen. David H. Berger, USMC, commandant, U.S. Marine Corps, said that the biggest effect the virus has had on the Corps has been on the command post exercise in South Korea, which had to be scaled back. South Korea is a major outbreak site for the virus, and all the services are restricting activities and operations in those areas.

“We’ve made decisions about canceling port visits and exercises [for coronavirus] based on locations,” said Adm. Michael M. Gilday, USN, chief of naval operations. He mentioned northern Italy as one area where U.S. Navy ships are avoiding per direction.

Some sea service activities are geared toward keeping the virus out of the United States. The U.S. Coast Guard, in particular, is striving to prevent this unintentional contraband from entering the country. Adm. Karl L. Schultz, USCG, Coast Guard commandant, described how his service is applying strong measures in the course of its border security operations to reduce the chances the contagion will come ashore.

“We’re screening every one of our ships [under Coast Guard purview] for coronavirus,” Adm. Schultz said.

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