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After brief break following coronavirus-plagued deployment, USS Theodore Roosevelt returns to sea

The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt approaches Apra Harbor, Guam, June 3, 2020.

WILL BENNETT/U.S. NAVY

By CAITLIN DOORNBOS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 26, 2020

Though the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt completed a six-month deployment this year, the aircraft carrier returned to sea once again this week.

The ship recently completed a maintenance period after returning to its San Diego, Calif., homeport on July 9, according to a Navy statement released Wednesday. The Roosevelt had been gone since Jan. 17 on a deployment to the Western Pacific during which more than 1,150 of its sailors tested positive for coronavirus one of whom died.

The Roosevelt spent about a month in Guam after the outbreak during that deployment as it underwent sanitization and sailors were tested, treated and isolated.

While the carrier is at sea, pilots attached to the Roosevelt will conduct carrier-landing qualifications, “relying on the systems and personnel on the ship to safely guide them to the flight deck during both day and nighttime operations,” according to the Navy statement.

“Conducting carrier qualifications for two fleet replacement squadrons has a two-fold benefit,” the Roosevelt’s commander, Capt. Eric Anduze, said in the statement. “It generates readiness for the fleet by providing aviators capable of supporting currently deployed squadrons and it sharpens the skills of my crew before we set sail over the horizon again in support of our nation’s defense.”

Anduze in August took over the ship’s command from Capt. Carlos Sardiello, who oversaw recovery efforts aboard the carrier and its eventual return to San Diego. Sardiello was assigned to the ship in April after its former commander, Capt. Brett Crozier, was relieved by then-acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly.

Crozier was at the helm when the Roosevelt diverted to Guam on March 26 after several sailors tested positive for the coronavirus. Modly removed him after a letter Crozier emailed his Navy superiors asking for help surfaced in the San Francisco Chronicle soon after.

About a week later, Modly resigned when a recording of his speech to the Roosevelt’s crew criticizing Crozier was made public.

The Navy did not say when the ship plans to leave for another patrol, but carrier flight operations are typically one of the final steps in the workup to a deployment. The Navy by policy does not discuss future ship movements, citing security risks.

Sources “from within the carrier’s community” told Navy Times the ship will deploy “anywhere from November to January,” the newpaper reported Saturday.

“It is very gratifying to be able to return TR to sea,” Anduze said in the statement. “Getting underway, seeing the professionalism of the crew firsthand and supporting the FRS squadrons during carrier qualifications is a great way to demonstrate once again what the TR team can do.”

The Roosevelt’s return to sea comes as the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower does the same just over a month after returning from a grueling deployment on Aug. 9, according to the Eisenhower’s Facebook page.

The Eisenhower spent a record-breaking 206 consecutive days at sea during that deployment due to the Navy-wide cancellation of port visits in response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Navy.

doornbos.caitlin@stripes.com
Twitter: @CaitlinDoornbos