Aboard the USS Roosevelt, sailors braced for the worst

Across 2,500 miles of ocean, emotions on board the Roosevelt rose and fell. At first, during the asymptomatic incubation period of the infections, the ship seemed a refuge from the pandemic-stricken world.

“It was a bit scary because we were looking at the news, seeing that it had changed America and thinking we could be an episode of ‘The Last Ship,’” said a Roosevelt sailor, referring to the dystopian television series about a lone Navy ship that escapes a world-wide pandemic.

But after some of the 5,000 crew members began to test positive, the mood darkened, according to accounts provided by sailors and their relatives.

“The worry about it spread throughout the ship, so we went into overtime cleaning everything—handrails, keyboards, doorknobs,” the sailor said. “We were bleaching everything.”