Two carrier strike groups deployed to the Pacific on Monday – the first since the Navy developed a new set of procedures to protect the ships underway from the COVID-19 virus.
USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) left its homeport in Yokosuka, Japan, on Monday local time to begin the carrier strike group’s spring patrol, U.S. 7th Fleet announced. The carrier is embarked with Carrier Air Wing 5 based at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni and unspecified escorts from Destroyer Squadron 15.
The carrier completed its annual repair in April and held sea trials in May before beginning the patrol.
“Following sea trials, Reagan commenced deployment by on-loading more than 1,000 tons of ordnance – enough combat power to cause the ship to sit five-inches lower on the waterline – in addition to personnel and aircraft from aviation squadrons within CVW-5,” reads a statement from Task Force 70.
The 5,000 sailors aboard the carrier were isolated ahead of the patrol in a 14-day restriction of movement (ROM) period and tested for COVID-19 before embarking in an effort to create a protective bubble on the carrier to keep out the virus.
Likewise, on the West Coast, the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group underwent its own isolation period ahead of its deployment that began on Monday.
USS Nimitz (CVN-68) left San Diego at about 11:30 a.m. local time for an expected Western Pacific deployment, ship spotters confirmed to USNI News on Monday.
The 8,000 sailors of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group and Carrier Air Wing 17 entered an isolation period in early April – Nimitz at its homeport in Bremerton, Wash., and the CSG staff and air wing in California.
The carrier returned last week from completing its composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX).
The following ships and units were scheduled to join the Nimitz CSG to conduct the COMPTUEX: guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG-59); Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53), USS Sterett (DDG-104) and USS Ralph Johnson (DDG-114); and Carrier Air Wing 17 and its associated squadrons and personnel from Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island, Wash., NAS Lemoore, Calif., NAS North Island, Calif., and Naval Base Ventura County, Calif.
Princeton departed Naval Station San Diego on Saturday as part of the Nimitz CSG, USNI News understands.
The Navy developed and refined the COVID-19 prevention procedures following an outbreak on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) that sidelined the carrier in Guam for almost two months. The outbreak resulted in more than 1,000 sailors testing positive for the virus and the death of one sailor.
Theodore Roosevelt left Guam last week to continue on its deployment.