The U.S. warship Philippine Sea got back underway Sunday following a COVID outbreak that infected at least 20 crew members.

The deployed guided-missile cruiser pulled into Bahrain Feb. 26 after several suspected cases emerged among the ranks.

There, sailors were tested, and infected personnel and their close contacts were placed in isolation, according to U.S. 5th Fleet.

While in port, more than half the crew opted to receive the first dose of Moderna’s COVID vaccine and those members have been allotted the second vaccine, according to a command statement.

The COVID vaccines remain voluntary for military members since they have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under an emergency-use authorization.

“All personnel have been encouraged to get vaccinated,” 5th Fleet said in a statement Monday.

At about the same time as Philippine Sea’s outbreak, the amphibious transport dock San Diego suffered its own COVID outbreak while in port in Bahrain, infecting roughly 20 crew members and embarked Marines.

That crew was also offered the COVID vaccine and got back underway on March 15, according to 5th Fleet.

Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at geoffz@militarytimes.com.

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