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10 Months After Outbreak, USS Theodore Roosevelt is Back in W. Pacific

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Image courtesy USN

Published Jan 24, 2021 7:28 PM by The Maritime Executive

The USS Theodore Roosevelt and her escorts have returned to the South China Sea, marking the carrier's second deployment to the region in less than a year's time. 

“After sailing through these waters throughout my 30-year career, it’s great to be in the South China Sea again, conducting routine operations, promoting freedom of the seas, and reassuring allies and partners,” said Rear Adm. Doug Verissimo, commander, Carrier Strike Group Nine. “With two-thirds of the world’s trade traveling through this very important region, it is vital that we maintain our presence and continue to promote the rules-based order which has allowed us all to prosper."

The strike group is carrying out a range of routine training and presence operations, including flight ops, maritime strike exercises and coordinated tactical training between surface and air units, the Navy said.

“We all benefit from free and open access to the seas and our operations represent our commitment to maintaining regional security and stability,” said Capt. Eric Anduze, USS Theodore Roosevelt's commanding officer. “I’m incredibly proud of the work and professionalism this crew shows every day operating on the high seas.”

Images courtesy USN

The strike group includes USS Theodore Roosevelt, the cruiser USS Bunker Hill and the destroyers USS Russell and USS John Finn.

Theodore Roosevelt departed San Diego for deployment to the Indo-Pacific on December 23. Her rare "double-pump" deployment follows after a challenging tour in the Western Pacific in the first half of 2020. After a port call in Vietnam, an outbreak of COVID-19 swept through the ship, eventually infecting one quarter of the crew. A 10-week period of quarantine and disinfection followed at the Navy's base at Guam, and after the all clear, Theodore Roosevelt returned to San Diego, arriving in early July. 

Despite a second, smaller COVID outbreak affecting her personnel, she trained up and got under way in late December, less than six months after her return to base. She sustained two crewmembers fatalities in the run-up to departure, including a man-overboard in mid-December and a suicide in mid-October.