USS Roosevelt in dry dock
The USS Theodore Roosevelt in dry dock at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Navy photo

The Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt left Bermerton, WA, on Friday to return to Naval Air Station North Island after an 18-month overhaul.

While in dry dock, the giant warship was upgraded with new guns, radar and electronic warfare systems, and modified to support the new F-35C Lightning II stealth fighter and future unmanned aircraft.

Below the flight deck, the crew living quarters and bathrooms were completely refurbished, and preventative maintenance was performed on the hull, rudders and propulsion shafts.

“I’m so grateful for the unrelenting work our crew and our shipyard teammates put into this milestone,” said Commanding Officer Capt. Brian Schrum.

“Their sacrifices have enabled us to rejoin the fleet and to get back to being a warship for our nation. Thanks as well to our sailors and their families for their resiliency, and to the Puget Sound communities for their unwavering support.”

The warship will spend several days at sea certifying the upgraded and replaced systems and arrive in San Diego next week.

With the Roosevelt’s arrival, three carriers will be stationed here, including the USS Carl Vinson and USS Abraham Lincoln.

During a deployment in 2020, the aircraft carrier was sidelined in Guam for months due to a COVID outbreak that saw more than 1,200 sailors infected, about one-quarter of the ship’s crew. The Roosevelt’s captain was fired, and the secretary of the Navy resigned.

But on the next deployment, which ended in May 2021, vaccines were available and there were only three cases.

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