Coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier returning to sea

Coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier returning to sea
© Getty Images

The USS Theodore Roosevelt is set to return to sea this week, two months after a coronavirus outbreak on the aircraft carrier forced it to dock in Guam, according to The Associated Press.

Navy Capt. Carlos Sardiello told the news service that the ship will sail again with a smaller crew of approximately 3,000 sailors. About 1,800 sailors who are still in quarantine will remain on shore, including the 14 sailors who appear to have tested positive a second time for the virus.  

When asked whether the ship would be able to conduct missions after remaining in Guam for nearly two months, Sardiello responded, “Do I have a crystal ball? I do not. But I think we have set the conditions for a high probability of success, and we’re going to go to sea and do our mission.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The ship is scheduled to depart in the next few days, anonymous officials confirmed to the AP. It will conduct operations in the Pacific region before going to San Diego.

Sailors have been required to undergo additional training, and masks, additional cleaning, social distancing and other coronavirus-related measures are also required. 

“We’re at the time where expect the unexpected and deal with it. There’s no good news. There’s no bad news. It’s COVID[-19] and we don’t understand it completely,” Sardiello told the AP. “We’re executing according to plan to return to sea, and fighting through the virus is a part of that.” 

Sardiello said the ship has acquired special black neck gaiters for the flight deck crew because standard masks would not be safe. Additionally, hallways will be one-way, crew member areas will be spaced out, and mess halls will be open longer so smaller groups of sailors can eat at one time.

A coronavirus outbreak on the Roosevelt earlier this year infected 1,000 sailors. Over 4,000 sailors of the ship’s near 5,000-person crew were removed to quarantine at Naval Base Guam or at area hotels.

Capt. Brett Crozier was removed from his command of the Roosevelt after a letter he wrote pleading for help amid a coronavirus outbreak aboard the ship was leaked to the press. The Navy has been conducting an investigation, and the Pentagon’s inspector general last week announced it would also probe the Navy’s response to the pandemic aboard its ships.