Remaining USS Theodore Roosevelt sailors to depart Guam months after outbreak

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Posted at 5:58 PM, Jun 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-12 20:58:11-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The remaining sailors from the San Diego-based USS Theodore Roosevelt who stayed ashore in Guam following a COVID-19 outbreak aboard the carrier will fly back to the United States starting Friday, according to the Navy.

The carrier resumed its scheduled deployment in the Indo-Pacific last Thursday, though a few hundred sailors remained in Guam to continue receiving medical care. The Navy says those service members will take military flights to the U.S., where they will be required to complete a two-week "restriction-of- movement sequester" either at home or at facilities on base at their home station.

The ship originally departed San Diego on Jan. 17 for a deployment, but was diverted to Guam on March 27 when the COVID-19 outbreak took hold, ultimately infecting more than 1,100 sailors, and killing one, Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Charles Thacker, 41.

The ship's commanding officer, Capt. Brett Crozier, made a publicized plea for assistance from Navy leadership in a letter that was leaked to the press, leading to his removal from command of the ship.

While many have called for his reinstatement, the Navy has stated that its investigation into the circumstances behind the letter's leak is ongoing. Crozier has since been reassigned to the Naval Air Forces in San Diego, while Thomas Modly, the former Acting Secretary of the Navy who fired Crozier, resigned after he criticized Crozier to the ship's crew in a speech that was leaked online.

The ship briefly went to sea June 2 to complete carrier qualifications before returning to Apra Harbor in Guam two days later to pick up around 1,000 sailors.

Navy officials said the carrier now operates with new COVID-19 standard operating procedures, which modifies how crew members move through the ship, expands meal hours and establishes new social distancing procedures.

"The crew humbly prepared to go back to sea, they had a job to do, and they did it without hesitation," said the ship's commanding officer, Capt. Carlos Sardiello. "We have returned Theodore Roosevelt to sea as a symbol of hope and inspiration, and an instrument of national power because we are TR."