This post has been updated to correct the start of USS Theodore Roosevelt’s first 2020 deployment.
The crew of aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) and its strike group have begun a restriction of movement period ahead of a deployment later this fall – a little more than four months after the carrier returned from a deployment marked by a COVID-19 outbreak, two defense officials confirmed to USNI News on Wednesday.
A U.S. 3rd Fleet spokesman confirmed the crew was in quarantine without acknowledging the upcoming deployment.
“Carrier Strike Group Nine continues to focus on operational readiness, which includes ensuring the health of its more than 5,500 Sailors,” Cmdr. Sean Robertson told USNI News.
“The strike group is executing a restriction of movement sequester to try to eliminate opportunities for COVID-19 to infect its members.”
Defense officials said that following the two-week period, the strike group plans to get underway for a sustainment exercise and then an eventual deployment.
The restriction period feeding directly into a deployment follows the same pattern of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group that deployed in June. However, the strike group and the air wing had remained in quarantine beginning in April, well ahead of the deployment.
Given how recently Theodore Roosevelt had been deployed, the level of training needed to be certified to deploy is much less than it was for Nimitz — which had just completed an extended maintenance period.
This will be the second deployment for Theodore Roosevelt in less than a year. The ship left in January for a deployment to the Western Pacific that was interrupted in March after a COVID-19 outbreak. The virus infected more than 1,200 sailors and forced the carrier to remain pier-side in Guam for more than two months to purge the virus. Aviation Ordnanceman Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker Jr. died from complications of an infection. The incident also led to the relief of former commander Capt. Brett Croizer by then-Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly. Modly resigned after a speech aboard the ship in which he was critical of the former commander.
The latest deployment comes as the Navy is managing a stressed carrier force that is working to keep up with demand for forces, as USNI News outlined last week. On the East Coast, USS Eisenhower (CVN-69) is set to deploy again by early next year.
Meanwhile, West Coast ships USS Makin Island (LHD-8), USS Somerset (LPD-25) and USS San Diego (LPD-22) and the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit are nearing their own deployment and were operating off of Hawaii as of Tuesday, according to ship spotters.
“The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group and 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit are currently underway conducting routine operations in U.S. Third Fleet,” Robertson told USNI News.