The USS Theodore Roosevelt has finally returned to sea after being locked out in Guam for nearly two months, following a massive coronavirus outbreak among crew members and the controversial layoff of the captain who raised the alarm.
The aircraft carrier left Apra Harbor Naval Base in Guam and left for the Philippine Sea on Wednesday in preparation for return to active duty.
The return comes despite at least 14 sailors becoming infected with the deadly virus for the second time last week while serving on board the coronavirus-affected vessel.
The Roosevelt has been stationed in Guam since March 27, following the devastating virus outbreak aboard the ship that infected 1102 of its 4,900 crew and killed a non-commissioned officer.
It has been at the center of the controversy since Commander Captain Brett Crozier was fired after a memo he sent to Navy leaders for help dealing with the outbreak was leaked to the media.
The scandal continues to rage with then-acting naval secretary Thomas Modly who also resigned after the backlash to Crozier’s resignation and the outcome of the investigation into the captain’s actions is expected to be announced on Wednesday.
The USS Theodore Roosevelt in the Philippine Sea Thursday. The aircraft carrier has returned to sea after being stuck in Guam for nearly two months, following a massive coronavirus outbreak among crew members and the controversial layoff of the captain who raised the alarm.
The coronavirus-affected aircraft carrier is shown leaving the Apra Harbor naval base in Guam and heading to the Philippine Sea on Wednesday for training as it prepares to return to active duty
“It feels great to be back at sea,” Admiral Stu Baker, Carrier Strike Group 9 commander, said in a statement as the courier left Wednesday.
“Bringing Theodore Roosevelt and Carrier Air Wing 11 a step closer to returning to their mission in the Indo-Pacific is a great achievement for the crew.”
The vessel will operate carrier qualifying flights for Carrier Air Wing 11 for approximately two weeks, including recertification of the cockpit and fighter squadron, including jet takeoff and landing.
It sails with a limited crew of around 3,000, leaving nearly 1,900 sailors ashore, Navy captain Carlos Sardiello confirmed Monday.
Sardiello, a former Roosevelt captain who took over the ship in April after Crozier’s departure, told the Associated Press that he was confident the ship will be able to complete its missions after a two-month stop.
De Roosevelt is depicted at sea on Thursday. The return comes despite at least 14 sailors becoming infected with the deadly virus for the second time while serving on board the ship
The aircraft carrier is shown aboard Guam for the first time in two months after it broke out
A helicopter flies over the aircraft carrier on Thursday while it is sailing. It sails with a scaled crew of about 3,000, leaving nearly 1,900 sailors ashore, Navy captain Carlos Sardiello confirmed Monday
“Do I have a crystal ball? I do not do. But I think we have created the conditions for a high chance of success, and we are going out to sea and doing our mission, ”he said.
Significant precautions are taken on board the courier to prevent a new outbreak, including extensive cleaning, social distance measures, regular medical checks for the crew and limitation of the number of sailors in the dining rooms at once.
There are also special black neck caps for the cockpit crew, because wearing regular masks would not be safe.
After two weeks of training, it returns to Guam and collects healthy crewmembers who remain quarantined ashore before the Navy hopes the ship and crew can return to San Diego.
The crew that departed from Guam consists of 14 sailors who again tested positive for the virus last week, just days after they were given permission to return to the carrier.
The reinfected sailors each tested positive for the virus and completed a 14-day quarantine before testing negative for the virus at least twice.
The Roosevelt (pictured at sea on Thursday) has been stationed in Guam since March 27, following the devastating virus outbreak aboard the ship that infected 1102 of the 4,900 crew and killed a commissioned officer.
Crew members stand on the cockpit of the aircraft carrier in the morning colors on Thursday morning
The ship was thrown into the center of the controversy after its commander, Captain Brett Crozier, was fired after a memo he sent to Navy leaders for help in dealing with the outbreak was leaked to the media.
People watch the warship sail into the sea. The scandal continues to rage at Captain Crozier’s resignation, with then-Navy secretary Thomas Modly also resigning after a backlash over Crozier’s resignation and the result of the investigation into the Captain’s actions expected to be announced Wednesday
They were then allowed to board the ship where they caught the virus again, the Navy announced over the weekend.
Another 30 crew members who came into contact with the newly infected group have also been sent ashore for quarantine.
It is unclear whether some of the tests yielded false negative measurements when those infected sailors were initially cleared, or whether the sailors contracted the virus after two weeks of quarantine in Guam.
There are also questions as to whether the virus level may be too low to be detected by the tests.
“It feels great to be back at sea,” Admiral Stu Baker, Carrier Strike Group 9 commander, said in a statement as the courier left Wednesday
The vessel (pictured Thursday) will operate carrier qualifying flights for Carrier Air Wing 11 for approximately two weeks, including recertification of the cockpit and fighter squadron, including jet takeoff and landing.
The crew begins training in the Philippine Sea. On Sunday, the USS Roosevelt simulated they were at sea while still moored at Naval Base Guam to prepare to return to active operations
In recent weeks, sailors have been methodically brought back on board the aircraft before departure for the sea.
On Sunday, the USS Roosevelt simulated they were at sea while they were still moored at Naval Base Guam preparing to return to active operations.
“Our sailors have tested all ship systems individually, but this is our chance to integrate all of that together and demonstrate that Theodore Roosevelt is ready and able to get back out to sea,” Sardiello said at the time.
The aircraft carrier was in the midst of a public storm last month when the captain wrote a scathing letter to the Navy leaders on April 2 calling for more vigorous action to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak that he said was life. of his sailors.
Crew members are highlighted in masks. Significant precautions are taken on board the courier to prevent a new outbreak, including extensive cleaning, social distance measures, regular medical checks for the crew and limitation of the number of sailors in the dining halls simultaneously
Some of the reduced crew can be seen on deck as it leaves port. In recent weeks, sailors have been methodically brought back on board the aircraft carrier, while the remainder have gone ashore for quarantine
Rear Admiral John Menoni, Commander, Joint Region Marianas, is seen explaining the plane’s equipment and capabilities to Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero and Lieutenant Governor Josh Tenorio before taking off
The email had leaked and made headlines, releasing acting Navy secretary Thomas Modly four days later from Crozier’s command of the nuclear aircraft carrier.
Crozier left the ship as a hero – with his crew cheering him on and giving him a rough broadcast in a video that went viral online.
Mody faced a backlash to his decision to expel the commander, with the movement dividing the public, the military, and the politicians.
He flew to the Roosevelt and delivered a speech that Crozier called “naive” and “stupid” for allegedly sharing his letter outside the chain of command, leading to further criticism.
The ship was at the center of major controversy after his previous captain Brett Crozier (left) was fired on April 2 for allegedly causing panic by sending a memo asking for too many officials to help. Navy Secretary Thomas Modly (right) resigned on April 7 for his treatment of the virus outbreak and for removing Crozier from his post
The secretary resigned a few hours after the visit.
Crozier emerged as a hero of the saga when his fears about his crew’s safety became real when the outbreak devastated the crew and killed one.
After a preliminary assessment last month, Admiral Mike Gilday, the Navy’s top officer, recommended that Crozier be restored as a captain.
But the Navy is conducting a broader investigation instead, the outcome of which is expected to be released on Wednesday.
A photo of the United States Navy shows Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker Jr., 41, of Fort Smith, Arkansas, assigned to the USS Theodore Roosevelt, who died Monday of the coronavirus at US Naval Hospital Guam
More than 4,000 crew members went ashore for testing and quarantine in Guam at the height of the outbreak, while about 800 remained on the ship to protect and run the high-tech systems, including the nuclear reactors operating the ship.
A sailor who tested positive for coronavirus on board the aircraft died last month.
Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker Jr., 41, died in Guam on April 13, 11 days after Crozier’s resignation.
Thacker died at the US Naval Hospital in Guam of COVID-19, when his wife flew 6,200 miles from her San Diego military base to be next to his bed in his last moments.
He was the first active duty military member to die of COVID-19.
He was tested positive for coronavirus on March 30 – the same day that Crozier’s letter asking the Navy to evacuate the virus-infected blood vessel was leaked.
Thacker was taken off the ship and placed in ‘isolation housing’ together with four other sailors at Guam Navy Hospital.
On April 9, Thacker was found unresponsive during a medical check-up and was transferred to Navy Hospital intensive care unit.
More than 1,100 crew members tested positive for the virus – nearly a quarter of the crew. Crozier also tested positive for the infection.
It is believed that sailors originally picked up the virus during a port visit in Da Nang, Vietnam on March 5.
Timeline of the USS Theodore Roosevelt COVID-19 outbreak
- Three sailors aboard the USS Theodore tested positive for COVID-19 on March 24, 2020.
- Days later, the number rose to tens, the first U.S. naval vessel to have a coronavirus outbreak at sea.
- The courier docked at the naval base in Guam on March 27.
- Captain Brett Crozier begged for help from the Navy and sent an email to 10 Pacific Fleet admirals and captains requesting that the ship be evacuated.
- The Navy ordered the ship to be evacuated with a 400 skeleton crew to be left behind to maintain the ship’s sensitive equipment, such as the nuclear reactor.
- On April 2, Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly Crozier released his order to send that email to a “wide range of people.” Captain Carlos A. Sardiello came to replace him.
- Modly traveled to Guam and delivered a speech to the entire ship, hitting Crozier and being harassed by sailors. Modly resigned on April 7.
- On April 13, the first sailor, a non-commissioned officer, died of the virus.
- On May 15, five sailors test positive for the virus for the second time. That number rose to 14 on Monday, May 18
- On May 20, the aircraft carrier leaves Guam with a scaled-down crew for 2 weeks of training in the Pacific