Aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt finally returns to US after months of sickness, turmoil

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SAN DIEGO (KSWB) — The USS Theodore Roosevelt finally returned to San Diego Thursday after months of sickness and turmoil at sea and a stop to quarantine in Guam.

The sailors aboard the aircraft carrier suffered a widespread coronavirus outbreak that sickened more than 1,000 of the ship’s nearly 4,900-member crew. One sailor, 41-year-old Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker Jr., died during the outbreak.

The ship, which had left San Diego in January, stopped in Guam in late March for an extended quarantine.

The outbreak also led to the high-profile firing of the ship’s commanding officer, who publicly sounded the alarm about the virus’ spread.

Navy officials said Capt. Brett Crozier had gone outside the chain of command and wasn’t careful enough in sharing an urgent message about the outbreak, which leaked to media. His crew had a different reaction, cheering and chanting the captain’s name as he exited the ship.

Thomas Modly, who was acting Navy secretary at that time, visited the ship and blasted Crozier as “too naive or too stupid” to command the carrier, but that prompted fierce backlash that ultimately led to Modly’s resignation. The Navy launched an investigation into their handling of the outbreak, and some officials suggested that Crozier could be reinstated, but ultimately the Navy upheld the firing.

The ordeal finally came to an end for the crew Thursday, as the ship pulled back in to Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego.

The Roosevelt, which has called San Diego home since 2015, is changing its homeport to Bremerton, Washington and undergoing maintenance this summer.

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