WASHINGTON — For 55 days, the USS Theodore Roosevelt was tied up in Guam, essentially crippled, with more than 1,100 of its sailors testing positive for COVID-19.
One died, the captain got fired, and now, the Navy hopes the ship can begin to put all that in its rearview mirror.
The process of moving on began Thursday, May 21 with the Newport News-built aircraft carrier pulling out of Guam for the first time since March 27.
"We're proud to say the Teddy Roosevelt is underway today," said Jonathan Hoffman, Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. "The ship left Naval Base Guam and entered the Philippine Sea to conduct carrier qualification flights for the embarked Carrier Air Wing Eleven. We wish the very best to the Roosevelt and her crew."
The departure followed several weeks of intense sanitizing aboard the ship.
And the TR left with a "scaled-back" crew of 3,000, with 1,800 sailors remaining in Guam under quarantine.
"We're not going to have our ships in port, we're not going to stand down," said Hoffman. "We're going to continue to sail, we're going to patrol. The [TR] is just the latest example of that as they're now back out to sea."
Yet to be resolved, the fate of fired Captain Brett Crozier and two separate investigations.
Senate Armed Services Committee member Tim Kaine of Virginia is happy the Roosevelt got underway, but he still has questions.
"What troubles me is the recurrence of cases on the Roosevelt," he said. "But I am personally glad that the Navy feels the confidence now that they can put the Roosevelt back on the water to perform its purpose."
The plan, for now, is for the Roosevelt to be at sea for about 10 to 14 days. Then, it will return to Guam to pick up the remaining sailors and resume its original deployment.