USS Roosevelt COVID-19 Proposal: Camp the Navy

I understand the Navy’s Top Brass are already on this, and good for them. Commendable.

If I were Captain for a day, I’d teach those sailors how to camp. Seriously, turn most of the deck space into an open-air encampment.

First, masks: Give each and every sailor aboard the Roosevelt two 100% cotton, washable surgical masks. This is in part to mitigate the spread of virus shedding prior to the onset of symptoms while also mitigating the inhalation of viral droplets. Every 12 hours, wash half of masks in hot water, normal amounts of soap, and just a touch of bleach (20 ppm solution using 0.25 tsp 5.25% NaOCl per gallon of H20). You’re breathing through it, not just wearing it, so double rinse the masks to prevent soap or bleach allergies. Conduct a Sunrise and Sunset swap immediately after chow.

It’s Guam.  Leave most people aboard ship, but head outdoors to minimize contamination of quarters and working areas and maximize airflow.  Outdoors has the additional benefit of ozone and UV sanitation while flushing contaminated air away from the sailors in quite literally, about a minute or so.

With temperatures in Guam ranging from 79 deg to 86 deg F right now, it’s not exactly cold, but cut the sailors down to pants and t-shirts and it’s entirely feasible, indefinitely.  As a USAF AGOS (6 CTS) instructor who made regular trips to NTC for a week or two at a time every six weeks, year-round, I and my students would often be in the field in temps ranging from 79 to 105 deg F, for days at a time without A/C.  It’s doable, especially if you erect sunshades. We had the added benefit of carrying ice, water, and food with us as we traveled around the NTC training ranges, items which I’m sure the U.S. Navy is not in short supply.

TENTS: I’d request 1,000 four-person 8’x7′ tents at $50 each from the company (Ozark Trail) that sells them to Walmart, along with a bunch of lime green 550 cord for securing the tents to the deck eyes.  Add rolls of 1″ thick closed cell foam to be cut into man-sized sleeping pads. Use bedding from below.

That’s 4,000 sailors housed in tents, with a skeleton crew housed below decks.  Isolate below-decks teams by function. 


“Easy, 30-second setup.”  “2 Oversized side vents for air circulation.”  “Free-standing frame design.”

Total Cost:  $50,000 (tents) + $20,000 (pads) + $2,000 (550 cord) = $72,000.

SHADE: Add aluminized mylar sun shades tied to makeshift wooden 8′ poles (1″x1″) tied to the deck eyes.  You’re looking at another $5,000 to $20,000. To prevent water collection, drape over taught 550 cord at 8′ height and angle towards the deck. Prime Examples of Camper’s Tarps.

Maximum cost per sailor aboard the USS Roosevelt: $20

The sun shades will greatly reduce the temperature on deck.

The flight deck is 4.5 acres.  That’s 196,020 square feet.

The tents are 56 square feet.  You can cram 3,500 on the deck with no room to move, but we only need 1,000 of them on the deck.  That leaves 2,500 tent spaces empty, for 140,020 square feet of non-tent deck space, or 71% of the deck space free.

Separate into two encampments:  Healthy and Sick, with the Sick encampment located downwind (prevailing) from the healthy encampment. If you need to erect standard U.S. Army hospital tents for the sick instead of using camping tents, that would be advisable.

Maintain deck space and wide rotor wash clearance for helicopter operations. The last thing you want to do is blow tents and aluminized mylar around, much less suck it up into engines. Use your charts and experience.

Back in the Healthy Camp, break into sub-camps by duty station (bridge, intel, engine room, etc.) to minimize any cross-contamination.  Not too close together, but do leave larger spaces between encampments (20′ ?) than between tents in each encampment (10′).Conduct PT 3x/day for healthy crew members in free areas of the deck.  Detail specific crews to retrieve chow. Either set up portapotties or assign specific bathrooms/shower locations to specific encampments.

Flush below decks air spaces on a regular basis (for example, 4x / day for 1 hr).

Hand this bare bones outline to the crew of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, and I’m sure they’ll get ‘er done.

A month later, both the crew and the ship will once again be ready for sea, and you will not have left the ship unattended.

Updated: April 1, 2020 — 8:01 pm