The USS Theodore Roosevelt returned to duty Wednesday, nearly two months after the aircraft carrier was forced into port in Guam by an outbreak of the flu-like coronavirus disease 2019 that resulted in the removal of her captain and forced the resignation of the acting Navy secretary.
The Roosevelt, the fourth in the 10-ship Nimitz class of aircraft carriers, put to sea with about 3,000 of its usual 4,800-member crew, The Associated Press and CNBC reported. The rest remained on shore in quarantine, including 14 who recovered from COVID-19 but tested positive a second time.
More than 1,000 of its crew tested positive for the novel coronavirus over the past two months.
Planned operations of the ship beyond deployment in the Pacific region were not disclosed.
"Do I have a crystal ball? I do not," commanding officer Capt. Carlos Sardiello told the AP when asked if the ship could effectively carry out its orders with only two-thirds of its regular crew. "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."
The outbreak of the coronavirus aboard the Roosevelt while at sea forced the ship to dock in Guam on March 27. Within four days, the ship had more than 100 cases and the ship's then-Cmdr. Brett Crozier emailed 10 Pacific Fleet admirals including the commander of the Pacific Fleet pleading for help and for his ship to be evacuated.
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly relieved Cozier of command April 2 for sending the mail over a non-secure network, for including a "broad array of people" and not following the chain of command.
Later in an address to the sailors aboard the ship, Modly called Crozier "too naive or too stupid" to be in charge of an aircraft carrier. The reported comments enraged some members of Congress, resulting in Modly's resignation.
A preliminary review of the incident by Adm. Mike Gilday, the Navy's top officer, recommended Crozier be reinstated as captain, but the Navy decided to conduct a broader investigation, the results of which are due at the end of the month.
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