U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Anthony Rivera
The US Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt has finally gotten underway after a coronavirus outbreak sidelined the carrier for nearly two months, the service announced Wednesday.
The ship left Naval Base Guam on Thursday local time and entered the Philippine Sea for carrier qualifications, which involves making sure the air wing is ready to operate normally.
The Navy stopped providing updates on the total number of coronavirus cases among USS Theodore Roosevelt sailors weeks ago, but at the end of April, there were more than one thousand active cases.
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The US Navy announced Wednesday evening that the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt has finally returned to sea after a serious coronavirus outbreak upended the ship’s Pacific deployment and sidelined it in Guam for nearly two months.
The ship departed Naval Base Guam on Thursday local time and entered the Philippine Sea, where the Carrier Air Wing 11 will conduct carrier qualifications aboard the flattop.
The USS Theodore Roosevelt has been pier-side in Guam since March 27, just a few days after the Navy revealed that three sailors aboard the carrier had contracted COVID-19.
After the ship arrived in Guam, the Navy began the lengthy processing of testing the entire crew, as well as moving members of the ship’s crew ashore. More than 80% of the ship’s crew of around 4,800 sailors would be moved off the ship as the number of cases skyrocketed.
The Navy has stopped providing updates on the number of cases aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, but by the end of April, the ship had more than one thousand cases.
In recent weeks, sailors have begun returning to the ship, but only on the condition that they meet the health requirements. Roughly 3,000 sailors have returned to the carrier.
The Navy announced on Monday that sailors aboard the carrier have been conducting a “fast cruise,” which simulates being at sea.
The service explained that “following a successful fast cruise, the ship will commence underway training and carrier qualifications to support the air wing’s return to operational readiness.”
The Navy said Wednesday evening that the ship is currently sailing with only a portion of its crew. “Carrier qualification requires fewer personnel than other missions, and bringing fewer Sailors on board will enable enhanced social distancing while underway,” Capt. Carlos Sardiello, the ship’s commanding officer, said in a statement.
The ship’s former commanding officer, Capt. Brett Crozier, was relieved of his command on April 2 after a letter he wrote warning of a worsening situation aboard the carrier and calling for the Navy to take decisive action leaked to the press.
The outbreak, as well as his actions, are still under investigation.
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