CVN-71 Returns to Sea


There is much uncertainty in life. COVID-19 proves that.

When it comes to forecasting, it would great if all the seers of the future would pause to answer this question: How well did we do in forecasting 2020 from the perspective of 2019?

But one certainty is that the press about the return to sea of CVN-71 will not receive anywhere near the amount of press coverage or inside the Beltway chatter as the aircraft carrier becoming the center of the COVID-19 story at sea.

Nonetheless, the US Nayy and its contractors have worked hard and the result can be seen in the Pacific: the USS Theodore Roosevelt is back at sea.

In this story published on May 21, 2020, a DoD story highlighted CVN-71s return.

PHILIPPINE SEA (May 21, 2020) – USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) is underway for the first time since arriving in Guam March 27.

The ship left Naval Base Guam and entered the Philippine Sea May 21 to conduct carrier qualification flights for the embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11.

“It feels great to be back at sea,” said Rear Adm. Stu Baker, commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9. “Getting Theodore Roosevelt and Carrier Air Wing 11 one step closer to returning to their mission in the Indo-Pacific is a great achievement for the crew.”

Theodore Roosevelt is on a scheduled deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations. It moored in Guam after some members of the crew displayed symptoms and later tested positive for COVID-19.

After moving nearly 4,000 crewmembers off ship and cleaning the entire ship from bow to stern, the appropriate number of crewmembers to operate the ship underway have returned from quarantine after passing rigorous return-to-work criteria.

Scaled manning allows the ship to bring on board the right makeup of personnel required to safely operate and complete a particular mission requirement.

“We are scaling our manning on board based on our mission requirement,” said Capt. Carlos Sardiello, Theodore Roosevelt’s commanding officer. “Carrier qualification requires fewer personnel than other missions, and bringing fewer Sailors on board will enable enhanced social distancing while underway.”

In addition to social distancing, Theodore Roosevelt Sailors will execute Navy COVID prevention and mitigation policies, including all required lessons learned from a safety stand down last week and a simulated underway earlier this week. During the simulated underway, the crew walked through routine and emergency procedures while executing COVID-19 mitigation measures, including wearing masks, medical surveillance of 100% of the crew, adjusted meal hours, minimizing in-person meetings, sanitizing spaces and a simulated medevac.

“It was an unprecedented challenge to get to this point and I’m proud of the Rough Rider Team’s tenacity and resiliency in the face of uncertainty,” said Sardiello.

“We are extremely thankful for the dedicated support and hospitality of Gov. Leon Guerrero, her staff and the people Guam. They have been steadfast and proactive partners throughout. We are also thankful for the efforts of our fellow service members on Guam for their resolute support. We owe them all a debt of gratitude that words cannot express.”

Theodore Roosevelt is the nation’s fourth Nimitz-class aircraft carrier with a crew of nearly 5,000 Sailors who support and conduct air operations at sea.

Theodore Roosevelt departed San Diego for a scheduled Indo-Pacific deployment January 17.

And in a story by Sam LaGrone published on June 3, 2020 by USNI News, the return was highlighted as follows:

USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) and its embarked air wing are ready to go back on deployment after completing carrier qualifications, following a two-month fight against a COVID-19 outbreak on the carrier, U.S. 7th Fleet announced.

Theodore Roosevelt is now pier-side in Guam to pick up the remainder of its crew before rejoining its escorts and resuming the deployment that was interrupted by the outbreak, a Navy official confirmed to USNI News on Wednesday. Last month, the carrier left for the qualifications with a partial crew while the remainder was still dealing with the aftermath of the quarantine…..

While Theodore Roosevelt was at the pier, escorts from the strike group were re-tasked and sent to different missions across the Pacific. Some of the guided-missile destroyers took on Coast Guard law enforcement detachments for anti-drug trafficking missions. The guided-missile cruiser, USS Bunker Hill (CG-52), was part of the operations in the South China Sea.