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Covid-19 outbreak on Coast Guard vessel cuts counter-drug patrol short

Despite isolation and negative Covid-19 tests before departure, 11 crew members of the Coast Guard Cutter Stratton tested positive for the virus.
USCGC Stratton conducts training exercises as part of Arctic Shield 2016
A training exercise on the Coast Guard Cutter Stratton on Aug. 16, 2016.U.S. Coast Guard

A Coast Guard vessel on a counternarcotics patrol returned to its home port Wednesday after 11 members of its 133-person crew tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said.

The USCG Cutter Stratton left Coast Guard Base Alameda, California, on Oct. 28 on what was supposed to have been a roughly seven-week patrol in the Eastern Pacific. Two weeks later, on Nov. 11 and Nov. 12, several crew members began to develop symptoms of Covid-19, the Coast Guard said. The crew members were given rapid Covid-19 tests, and they and their close contacts were identified and quarantined.

Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Brickey, a spokesperson for Coast Guard Pacific Area, said that the source of the outbreak was not clear but that Coast Guard medical officials are conducting contact tracing with the crew to identify it.

Before departure, the crew members underwent a period of self-quarantine, and all passed two coronavirus tests.

The Coast Guard Cutter Stratton in 2016.Defense Visual Information Distribution Service

The Stratton is back at Coast Guard Base Alameda. All of the crew members were tested for Covid-19 by Coast Guard medical staff members and then went into quarantine. The crew members with the virus have mild symptoms and are receiving medical care, the Coast Guard said.

"The crew's health and safety is my highest priority," said Capt. Bob Little, the Stratton's commanding officer. "Stratton has a highly resilient crew, always dedicated to the mission. Our mission today is to get healthy so we can continue our service to the nation."