Bed bugs have attacked a submarine. That’s what the Navy does

Sailors aboard the rapid attack submarine USS Connecticut engage in open combat against an army of blood-sucking bastards known as bed bugs.

Navy Times’ Geoff Ziezulewicz revealed for the first time that the boat’s crew had been plagued by the voracious bugs for a year. The six-legged terrorists have reportedly been running amok since Connecticut participated in an Arctic naval exercise in March 2020, which resulted in crew members avoiding their racks to avoid being bitten.

The Seawolf-class submarine has reportedly been anchored at Kitsap-Bremerton Naval Base in Washington since December. So far, the efforts of the Navy to eradicate the overlapping insects with extreme prejudice have failed. Crew members have told the Navy Times that they believe their command has not responded quickly enough to the boat’s new insect overlords.

Sailors reportedly tried to sleep in chairs and on the crew floor because they were eaten alive in their racks, a Navy Times officer told the Navy Times. The lack of sleep of the sailors aboard the submarine when it was deployed resulted in dangerous working conditions, another crew member said.

While the Navy received initial reports of the bed bug infestation back in December, it wasn’t until around February 19 that inspectors found concrete evidence that the creatures had raided the USS Connecticut, Cmdr said. Cindy Fields, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet Submarine Force.

The Navy responded by inspecting the sleeping areas, removing mattresses, washing all linens and clothing, and cleaning all floors and surfaces on board the boat, she said.

“Two Navy entomologists arrived on March 4 to lead the practical effort,” Fields said. “After two uses of pesticides and an initial use of diatomaceous dust, entomologists directed sealing efforts to deny the likely sheltering of insects unsusceptible to the use of pesticides, and monitored the additional use of diatomaceous dust and efforts to remove insects their hiding place and in contact with deadly to pull countermeasures. ”

Entomologists have recommended that the Connecticut crew members return to their sleeping areas, but a sailor told the Navy Times that the crew is being used as live bait to see if bed bugs survived the cleanup.

Fields said the entomologists had certified the Navy did everything possible to eradicate the insect threat, including two uses of Navy-approved pesticides.

“All appropriate countermeasures have been put in place, with plans firmly in place to address further outbreaks if they occur,” Fields said.

Ordinarily, Task & Purpose would recommend using nuclear weapons against the bed bugs, but since the Navy only has three Seawolf-class submarines because they are so expensive – the USS Connecticut alone cost $ 6 billion – other methods must be sought.

Since some scientists do not always have the “ground truth” perspective of professional bug slayers, Task & Purpose resorted to a grunt in the Bug Wars.

“Typically, heat is the preferred method of getting rid of bed bugs,” said Jesse Jardim, owner of Superior Bed Bug Solutions in Alexandria, Virginia.

“You raise the temperature to about 135 degrees and hold it up for about three hours – 125 and more kill it in seconds, but you have to make sure it penetrates everywhere.”

However, Jardim added that he did not know how sensitive the instruments on submarines were to heat.

Bed bugs are hard to kill, said Jardim, who has a customer in Baltimore who found the bugs in an office building that had been vacant last year.

“So the bed bugs survived there for a year with no one around,” said Jardim. “That just shows how tough they are.”

Officially known as Cimex lectularius, Cimex hemipterus, and Leptocimex boueti, bed bugs may not look like much, but they are constantly evolving.

A scientific study of bed bugs found that their “genome sequence reveals genes that code for enzymes and other proteins that the bed bug can use to fight insecticides, either by breaking them down or preventing them from being in their To penetrate the body ”.

In other words, their survival is genetically encoded in them, and they appear to be able to adapt to pesticides as humans adapt to the weather by shaking it off and going on with their daily routine. It also aids species survival in that they reproduce at a rate that would make most rabbits blush.

Bed bugs can be found anywhere people sleep or spend time, including homes, movie theaters, and even submarines, said Brittany Campbell, an entomologist with the National Pest Management Association.

Some infestations can be difficult to check because bites alone are not considered evidence of the presence of bed bugs, Campbell said.

“Bed bugs are notoriously difficult pests to control and eliminate that usually require multiple treatments and a variety of tactics,” Campbell said. “They are cryptic creatures that are usually well hidden behind walls or in bed frames and can be found in almost any object that offers dark protection.

“Aside from being small and well hidden, they have also developed resistance to many of the products used for control. So it is important to use different control tactics for elimination, ”she said.

Submarines also offer almost limitless spaces where bed bugs cannot be detected, said Phillipe Maxwell, a former submarine operator who worked for Jardim as a bed bug inspector.

“There are probably billions of tiny nooks and crannies a pest could get into – like billions,” said Maxwell, who left the Navy as a second class sergeant.

Submarines by design contain plumbing and spaces that humans cannot reach, all of which are ideal hiding spots for insect intruders, said Maxwell, who luckily didn’t have to deal with bed bugs while serving aboard a submarine.

“I think if it’s not caught early it will likely be years before this submarine is declared free just because vermin could reach so many places in the submarine,” Maxwell said.

Maybe taking Connecticut out of orbit isn’t a bad idea after all. It’s the only way to be sure.

Feature image: Photo composite “Task & Purpose” with bed bugs on the left and the attack submarine USS Connecticut on the right. (Photos via Michael Potter / US Navy)

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