According to a French Navy (Marine Nationale) statement, all units that were part of the carrier strike group (CSG) were back in their bases on the evening of April 13. Setting sails from Toulon on January 21 for “Mission Foch”, the CSG was involved in Operation Chammal in the eastern Mediterranean, as part of the international coalition against Daesh before participating in several multinational exercises and in protecting European maritime approaches in the Atlantic and in the North Sea.
A suspected COVID-19 epidemic aboard the aircraft carrier (40 suspected cases announced on April 8) prompted the Minister of the Armed Forces to order the early return of the Charles de Gaulle to its homeport. Four days later 50 sailors tested positive to COVID-19 of out the 66 total tests performed.
The aircraft from Charles de Gaulle’s air wing returned to their naval air bases on April 11 (the Helicopters are based in Hyères, the Rafale M in Landivisiau and the E-2C Hawkeye in Lann-Bihoué). All escort ships in the strike group returned to their respective homeports on April 12 (frigate La Motte-Picquet and supply vessel Somme are home ported in Brest, aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and destroyer Chevalier Paul are home ported in Toulon). The aircraft and ships are going through a disinfecting process, and all sailors involved will go through a screening and containment protocol developed by the French Navy in collaboration with civilian health authorities.
All sailors under quarantine
All sailors are now under a 14 days quarantine at their respective bases in Brittany and in Southern France, except for the crew members of the frigate La Motte-Picquet who were authorized to quarantine at home following negative results of an epidemiological investigation carried out on the ship.
On the evening of April 14, 1,767 sailors from the Carrier Strike Group were tested. The vast majority of these tests at this stage concern sailors from the aircraft carrier. 30% of these tests have not yet delivered their results. 668 were positive. Among them, 31 are hospitalized today at the Sainte-Anne army training hospital in Toulon, including one in intensive care. This test campaign is still ongoing.
French Navy statement issued on April 15
The Chief of Staff of the French Navy, Admiral Prazuck, has ordered a command investigation into the outbreak and how it was managed within the carrier strike group.
Two US Navy sailors tested positive
According to USNI News, at least two American sailors are among the sick on Charles de Gaulle, though neither navy has elaborated on the severity of their conditions. Four American sailors are assigned to Charles de Gaulle as part of the Navy’s Personnel Exchange Program.