Sailors Reboard USS Theodore Roosevelt

Sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt prepare to embark the ship after weeks of cleaning and essential watch standing (USN)

Published Apr 29, 2020 5:12 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Wednesday, hundreds of sailors began the transition from quarantine and isolation on shore to shipboard life aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. The ship is preparing to return to sea after a bow-to-stern deep cleaning process, part of the Navy's effort to decontaminate the vessel after a large-scale outbreak of COVID-19 on board. 

About 4,000 sailors who tested negative for COVID-19 have been in quarantine in hotels outside of Naval Base Guam. It will take several days to move all of these sailors back on board, the ship's public affairs team said in a statement. 

After USS Theodore Roosevelt's arrival at Guam on March 27, about 700 sailors remained on board to maintain ongoing operations and begin cleaning. Spaces were vacated for seven days – four days longer than the minimum recommended by the Centers for Disease Control – before being thoroughly disinfected. For spaces that were continuously operational, each group of sailors to use the area cleaned it before leaving it, while the incoming sailors cleaned it immediately upon arrival.

7th Fleet, U.S. Naval Hospital Guam, Naval Base Guam and the government of Guam worked together to isolate and quarantine the ship’s sailors in phases. “I appreciated the sailors’ patience throughout this whole process, as we worked with one another to maintain the health and readiness of the crew and to get the Roosevelt back to sea. We are happy to help," said Capt. Maria Young, commanding officer of U.S. Naval Hospital Guam.

Renewed investigation

USS Theodore Roosevelt's former commanding officer, Capt. Brett Crozier, was removed from his post after writing a letter to three Pacific Fleet admirals to ask for more assistance for his ship. An initial investigation into the circumstances behind his memo and his dismissal has concluded, and on Friday, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday and Acting Secretary of the Navy James McPherson advised Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to reinstate Capt. Crozier. Esper asked for more time to consider, and McPherson has ordered a more thorough review. 

"After carefully reviewing the preliminary inquiry into the events surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt, the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mike Gilday, provided me with his recommendations. Following our discussion, I have unanswered questions that the preliminary inquiry has identified and that can only be answered by a deeper review," said McPherson in a statement Wednesday. "Therefore, I am directing Adm. Gilday to conduct a follow-on command investigation. This investigation will build on the good work of the initial inquiry to provide a more fulsome understanding of the sequence of events, actions, and decisions of the chain of command surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt."