Top Brass Visits USS Theodore Roosevelt to Resolve Virus Controversy

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd alongside aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sean Lynch

The outbreak of the Corona Virus onboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt continues to be scrutinized and an investigation into the entire situation is underway.

In an effort to support and thank the crew, the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet Commander, Admiral John Aquilino and the Pacific Fleet Master Chief James Honea arrived on Guam May 1. They visited the crew to see the operation firsthand and thank the Sailors for their resilience and dedication in getting the “Big Stick” back in the fight.

The situation of the Roosevelt and the Corona Virus outbreak is being scrutinized and may well define how outbreaks of this nature are dealt with in the future.

“We need to look at it up and down the chain. We need to look at all of the — the decision making and communications that took place and have a full investigation. So this looked at a number of different issues from the time the infections were first noted and how the response took place, and it was intended to look at — from — all up and down the chain of command. This is — I think as I’ve talked to many of you about, is not intended to be an inquiry about one officer and his actions, it’s intended to be an inquiry or now an investigation into how the Navy responded and how the Navy handled that,” said Assistant to the Secretary of Defense Jonathan Rath Hoffman.

When sailors aboard the USS Kidd succumbed to an outbreak of the Corona Virus, that ship’s leaders were able to use the same mitigation tactics as the Roosevelt; removing the infected crew, pulling into port fast and testing the remaining crew.

The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in front of Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Russell, left, and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Anthony J. Rivera

On the TR, docked in the Port of Guam, the top brass witnessed the amount of work required to disinfect the ship and participated in small-group discussions with the crew.
“I am incredibly proud of the ongoing effort to get this crew healthy and take back their ship,” said Aquilino. “TR has laid the foundation for a “get well” road map for the Navy to refine as we continue to learn about operating in this evolving environment.”

They met with the Governor of Guam to thank the government and residents of the island for supporting the crew of the Roosevelt.

After a tour of the medical facilities and expressed appreciation for the teamwork exhibited, Honea said: “Between our joint medical personnel, the Seabees, and the Marines, this has been an all-hands-on-deck fight. This is what it means to be shipmates. This is the Navy, Marine Corps team, and joint force working together.”

Aquilino and Honea also visited with crew that had tested negative for the virus and were quarantined in local hotels on Guam.

One member of the crew, Chief Thacker died due to the Corona Virus. “We lost a shipmate in Chief Thacker,” Aquilino added. “Our hearts remain with his family, and I know the TR crew shares a resolve to not let his death be in vain.”

NAVAL BASE GUAM (MAY 2, 2020) U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander, Adm. John C. Aquilino, left, and U.S. Pacific Fleet Fleet Master Chief, James Honea, right, welcome Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Joshua Graddy, returning from off-ship quarantine, aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), May 2, 2020. Theodore Roosevelt’s essential watch standers and cleaning team conducted a crew swap starting April 29, turning over a clean ship to a COVID-negative crew after completion of their off-ship quarantine or isolation. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dartanon D. Delagarza/Released)


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