Clothes got laundered, mattresses replaced and pesticides sprayed as the Navy waged war against a stubborn infestation of bedbugs that found their way onto a nuclear-powered submarine homeported in the Bremerton area.
Navy entomologists now certify that “all feasible measures have been taken” to control the infestation and have recommended “repopulation of berthing,” according to a statement from Cmdr. Cindy Fields, a public affairs officer for the Naval Submarine Forces Pacific.
This campaign aboard the USS Connecticut has included laying down diatomaceous dust to draw insects out of hiding and into contact with this “deadly” countermeasure, according to the statement.
But the Navy’s efforts have not quelled concerns from the crew, some of whom have been sleeping on cots in a pier-side shelter erected as temporary quarters to avoid getting bitten in the submarine “racks” where people sleep.
“They are really frustrated and feel like they have been let down by the Navy,” said Jeffery Rachall, who previously served aboard the submarine and — since leaving military service in 2018 — has remained in close contact with other crew. “They are complaining about a lack of sleep. They itch, and the bugs are crawling all over.”
Bedbugs are oval-shaped insects, about one-quarter inch long when fully grown, that feed on blood from humans and some animals. They can be transported into hotels, homes and boats on people’s clothing, luggage or other personal belongings. They often take up residence in beds, where they may leave small spots that mark their presence. Though bites swell and become itchy, it may take two days or more for them to show up.