The USS Theodore Roosevelt docked in Guam. Navy photo

Sailors aboard the San Diego-based USS Theodore Roosevelt are preparing the aircraft carrier for a return to sea after being docked in Guam for over a month because of an outbreak of coronavirus.

The giant nuclear-powered carrier docked at Naval Base Guam on March 27 as the outbreak grew and the ship’s former commander pleaded with the Navy for help. Capt. Brett Crozier was fired after his memo was leaked to the press, but subsequently over 1,000 sailors were infected. One sailor died of the disease.

The Navy said 2,900 sailors have returned to the ship following a period of quarantine in hotels on Guam and two negative COVID-19 tests for each returning crew member.

The crew recently completed a “fast cruise” simulation of normal underway conditions while testing the critical systems required to sustain the ship during its upcoming return to deployment.

“Fast cruise is a major milestone for the ship and for the crew,” said Capt. Carlos Sardiello, the commanding officer. “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.”

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

The next step in the ship’s recovery is underway training and carrier qualifications to support the air wing’s return to operational readiness.

The Roosevelt is America’s fourth Nimitz-class aircraft carrier with a crew of nearly 5,000. The ship departed San Diego for a scheduled Indo-Pacific deployment January 17.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.