USS Theodore Roosevelt Prepares to Return to Sea

USS Theodore Roosevelt moored at Naval Base Guam, May 15, 2020 (USN)

Published May 18, 2020 3:02 PM by The Maritime Executive

Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt are going to begin an exercise known as a “fast cruise” while moored at Naval Base Guam as the next step in returning the carrier to sea. According to the U.S. Navy, during the exercise, the crew will simulate normal underway conditions while testing the critical systems required to sustain the ship as it prepared to recommence its scheduled deployment to the Indo-Pacific.

“Fast cruise is a major milestone for the ship and for the crew,” said Captain Carlos Sardiello, commanding officer of Theodore Roosevelt in a statement issued by the Navy. “Our Sailors have tested all of the ship’s systems individually, but this is our opportunity to integrate all of that together and show that Theodore Roosevelt is ready and able to go back to sea.”

The carrier received worldwide attention after it experienced an outbreak of the COVID-19 virus after a call at Danang in early March.  On its return to Guam, it was determined that the virus had spread throughout the crew.  The crew was later disembarked for quarantine and testing.

The Navy began returning crew to the Theodore Roosevelt on April 29 after having completed quarantine and isolation and receiving two negative COVID-19 tests. According to the Navy, more than 2,900 sailors have returned to the ship, but recently there were reports that several have tested positive for the virus for a second time.  The 13 "relapsed" individuals have been disembarked and placed in isolation as well as several other sailors who might have come in contact with those sailors.

“We passed a rigorous certification process before deployment, validating the crew’s ability to safely navigate, launch and recover aircraft and respond to on-board emergencies,” said Lt. Cmdr. DeCrisha Nolan, Theodore Roosevelt’s training officer. “We are applying that same standard to fast cruise to ensure that we can complete any mission the Navy asks of us.”

In addition to testing the ship’s systems, Theodore Roosevelt’s crew will also be implementing new measures to protect the crew from possible exposure to the novel coronavirus. The crew has spent the past month and a half adjusting to their normal work routine while wearing masks and maintaining social distance.

Following a successful fast cruise exercise, Theodore Roosevelt and its crew will be one step closer to going to sea to commence underway training and carrier qualifications to support the air wing’s return to operational readiness. 

Theodore Roosevelt departed San Diego for a scheduled Indo-Pacific deployment on January 17, but has been in Guam since the end of March while extensive efforts were undertaken to treat the crew and eradicate the virus from the carrier. When fully crewed, there are nearly 5,000 sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.