USS Theodore Roosevelt: Sailors on Sidelined Carrier Get Virus for Second Time

The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) sits along the pier at Naval Base Guam, May 15. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Conner D. Blake)

A resurgence of the Corona Virus has appeared on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, where 13 sailors tested positive for the Virus after initially being cleared of the sickness.

The reappearance of the virus brings into question the operational readiness of the ship, which was about to set sail.

The sick sailors have been removed from the ship. All 13 had previously tested positive and spent at least two weeks in isolation. After isolation they tested negative twice in a row before returning to the ship.

“These five Sailors developed influenza-like illness symptoms and did the right thing reporting to medical for evaluation,” the Navy said, adding that they were immediately removed from the ship and put back in isolation. A small number of other sailors who were in contact with them were also taken off the ship.

The tests were conducted using a nasal swab and it is uncertain if these cases are relapses, or if people tested negative before being clear of the virus. In some cases the infection is at such a low level, it cannot be detected, bringing the accuracy of the tests into question, the Associated Press reported.

Anyone exhibiting flu-like symptoms is being removed from the ship. “This is a very stubborn, infectious disease,” said Jonathan Hoffman, Pentagon spokesman. This situation highlights the challenging behavior of the virus, raising questions on how
personnel that test positive can reintegrate, particularly on ships.

The original outbreak aboard the Roosevelt occurred in March and they have been ported in Guam since that time. More than 4,000 crew members have rotated through being removed from the ship and being isolated or quarantined on Guam. The crew have been returning in coordinated waves, preparing to get underway.

The crew of the Roosevelt is conducting a “fast cruise” while pierside in Guam. They are simulating normal underway operations and testing required critical systems.

“Fast cruise is a major milestone for the ship and for the crew,” said Capt. Carlos Sardiello, commanding officer of the ship. “Our Sailors have tested all of the ship’s systems individually, but this is our opportunity to integrate all of that together and show that Theodore Roosevelt is ready and able to go back to sea.”

When the fast cruise is completed successfully, the ship will get underway for training to support the air wing’s return to operational readiness. Sailors not required for this training evolution will remain ashore where they can support personnel that are in quarantine or isolation. Strict cleaning protocols and social distancing are being enforced during these transitions, in an attempt to ensure the health and well being of the crew.

“Safely navigating an aircraft carrier is a complex process that involves teams of Sailors throughout the ship. We are setting the normal underway watches and running through various navigation scenarios so that the bridge watch teams can learn how to effectively communicate with one another while still protecting themselves and each other,” said Cmdr. Christopher Brown, the ship’s navigation officer.

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