The USS Theodore Roosevelt is set to return to sea this week, after nearly two months of dealing with a coronavirus outbreak on board.
The aircraft carrier is expected to begin its journey within a few days, and will likely conduct naval operations in the Pacific before returning to San Diego, the Associated Press reports. Capt. Carlos Sardiello said in an interview Monday that the ship would not be sailing with all of its crew, leaving around 1,800 sailors on shore to remain in quarantine.
The Roosevelt has been in the spotlight recently due to a coronavirus outbreak that occurred on board late March, and so far more than 1,000 crew members have tested positive, around a quarter of the total crew. A sailor who had been hospitalized at U.S. Naval Hospital Guam died April 13, and is the only recorded death of a crew member on board the Roosevelt.
The outbreak was also accompanied by political controversy, as a letter from the aircraft carrier’s captain Brett Crozier pleading for assistance from the Navy fell on deaf ears. Acting Secretary to the Navy Thomas Modly called the letter a “betrayal of trust,” and gave a speech to the crew members of the Roosevelt that publicly trashed Crozier.
Modly stated in his speech that Crozier was “perhaps too naive or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this,” and Crozier was relieved of his duties April 2. Modly, however, resigned April 7 after apologizing for his comments about Crozier. (RELATED: USS Roosevelt Sailors Cheer In Support Of Fired Commander As He Exits The Coronavirus-Infected Ship)
As the Roosevelt prepares to begin its journey, a sudden reappearance of the virus has caused concern among the crew. As of Monday, 14 crew members have tested positive for a second time despite the quarantine protocol.
Sardiello stated that the crew has been prepared for the journey, with new rules on social distancing and other restrictions being put in place. “We’re executing according to plan to return to sea, and fighting through the virus is a part of that,” he said.