US Navy Destroyer Visit to Cape Town Curtailed: A Coronavirus Concern Impact


by Dean Wingrin

The US Navy’s Arleigh Burke class destroyer USS Carney (DDG64) arrived in Cape Town for a planned port visit on Sunday 15 March, but all activities have been curtailed to minimize the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).

Planned as the US Naval Forces Africa’s effort to build global maritime partnerships with African nations in order to improve maritime safety and security in the region, its arrival was ahead of the ship’s participation in Exercise Obangame Express off Africa’s West coast later this week.

However, as a result of global efforts to minimize the spread of COVID-19, Spokesperson for US Navy Sixth Fleet, Commander Kyle Raines, told defenceWeb that all public tours and crew outreach events that were previously planned for the port call had been cancelled.

“The health and safety of our crew and host nation is our top priority,” he explained. “No one on the ship has visited any high-risk areas or has shown any symptoms to indicate that they should be tested for COVID-19.

“Medical personnel aboard the ship are monitoring all crew members and visitors daily for any COVID-19 symptoms and are prepared to take appropriate actions as necessary.”

Before leaving port on Tuesday 17 March, the ship was still able to refuel and replenish ship stores. Whilst most planned activities whilst in port were halted, the crew did experience “the local culture in vicinity of the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.” The ship also had the opportunity to host US Ambassador to the Republic of South Africa, Lana Marks.

Whilst USS Carney was in port, the US military’s Africa Command (Africom) announced that Exercise Obangame Express 2020 had been cancelled in response to the global effort to contain the spread of the COVID-19.

Obangame Express is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness, information-sharing practices, and tactical interdiction expertise to enhance the collective capabilities of participating nations to counter sea-based illicit activity.

With no further requirement to participate in Obangame Express, USS Carney will continue on its seventh patrol in the European and African theatre in support of US national security interests.

The USS Carney, operating in the US 5th Fleet Area of Operations, recently supported maritime security operations and ensured freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce while assigned to the USS Harry S Truman Carrier Strike Group and the USS Bataan Amphibious Ready Group before conducting a port visit in Port Victoria, Seychelles.

Following Carney’s patrol, the ship will return to its homeport in Rota, Spain where it will make preparations to homeport shift back to Mayport, Florida later this year.

Published by defenceWeb on March 17, 2020.