668 Sailors assigned the French Navy Carrier Strike Group tested positive for Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), the Ministry of Armed Forces said in a statement on Wednesday.
According to the statement, a total of 1,767 sailors from the Carrier Strike Group were tested, as of April 14, with 30% of these tests not yet delivering the results. Most of these Sailors were assigned to the aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle (R91).
The statement added that 31 Sailors are now hospitalized at the Sainte-Anne army training hospital in Toulon, including one in intensive care.
Following the COVID-19 outbreak, FS Charles de Gaulle (R91) arrived at its homeport of Toulon Naval Base on April 12 along with her escort, the Horizon-class frigate FS Chevalier Paul (D621). The sailors abroad the vessels are currently in confinement for a period of 14 days in a military enclosure, within the naval base of Toulon, the Mediterranean Schools Pole of Saint-Mandrier and the naval airbase of Hyères.
The aircraft carrier’s on-board air group includes helicopters based in Hyères, E-2C Hawkeye tactical airborne early warning aircraft based in Lann-Bihoué and Rafale combat aircraft in based Landivisiau. The pilots are quarantined to these three bases for a period of 14 days.
The two other vessels in the French Navy carrier strike group, the F70 type anti-submarine frigate FS La Motte-Picquet (D645) and Durance-class tanker FS Somme (A631), arrived at their homeport, Brest Naval Base (Arsenal de Brest, “Brest Arsenal”).
Following the negative results of the epidemiological investigation carried out on board, the crew of La Motte-Picquet was authorized for quarantine at home. Around sixty sailors of Somme remain in strict confinement in a military enclosure at the Naval Training Center in Brest with the remaining sailors authorized for home quarantine.
Charles de Gaulle Carrier Strike Group was in a deployment to the Atlantic Ocean as part of the Foch mission which started on January 21. The aircraft carrier was in its phase of return towards the Mediterranean when suspected cases of COVID-19 was reported. With the new development, the vessel expedited its return to its homeport. The arrival at Toulon was originally scheduled for April 23.