Missing USS Theodore Roosevelt sailor declared dead after search ends

By CAITLIN DOORNBOS | STARS ANS STRIPES Published: December 12, 2020

The search is over for a missing USS Theodore Roosevelt sailor believed to have gone overboard Thursday morning off the coast of Southern California, 3rd Fleet said in a statement Sunday.

The Navy changed the sailor’s status from missing to deceased after the 55-hour search ended at sunset Saturday, according to the statement.

The service has not yet publicly released the sailor’s name, but family has been notified, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Friday.

The Coast Guard, guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill, littoral combat ship USS Charleston, amphibious transport dock USS Portland, guided-missile destroyers USS Russell and USS Howard and Navy aircraft assisted in the search, which spanned more than 607 square miles, according to the statement.

“The entire Theodore Roosevelt team sends our deepest condolences to the family of our missing shipmate,” the carrier’s commander Capt. Eric Anduze said in the statement.

The incident remains under investigation, according to the statement.

The search began Thursday when a lookout “spotted what appeared to be a person in the water” at about 7:30 a.m., according to a Navy statement Friday. The carrier immediately launched three search-and-rescue helicopters and a rigid-hull, inflatable boat in response.

A ship-wide muster discovered one sailor missing, according to the statement.

The sailor went missing just three days after the carrier left San Diego on Dec. 7 for a second deployment this year.

The Theodore Roosevelt has had a trying 2020, including a six-month Pacific deployment punctuated by a monthlong diversion to Guam to battle a coronavirus outbreak on board.

More than a quarter of the carrier’s crew — 1,271 sailors — ultimately tested positive and one died, according to Navy medical personnel, whose study of the outbreak was published Nov. 11 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

After returning home to Naval Base San Diego on July 9, crews went back to sea in September for carrier-landing qualifications in preparation for the current patrol.

The Theodore Roosevelt made headlines again in October when a 20-year-old seaman killed himself while standing security watch on a pier at Naval Air Station North Island near San Diego.

Twitter: @CaitlinDoornbos