The Battle of USS Theodore Roosevelt: a Timeline

By Bradley Peniston

April 7, 2020

Eastern time unless noted. Last updated: 9:11 a.m. on April 13.

January 17: USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71, or TR), a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, departs Naval Base San Diego with 4,865 sailors aboard and Capt. Brett Crozier in command. TR sails in company with its strike group on a deployment to the western Pacific region. 

February 7: TR arrives in Guam for a scheduled port visit.

February 26: Defense Secretary Mark Esper directs combatant commanders to tell him before they make decisions about protecting their troops from COVID-19, the New York Times reports. His aim is to keep the military from contradicting President Trump, who that day declared that the 15 U.S. cases “within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.”

February 28: Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly says 7th Fleet ships will spend at least 14 days between port visits in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.

March 5 (in Vietnam): TR arrives for a port visit in Danang, just the second by a U.S. carrier since the Vietnam War. At the time, there were no known active cases of COVID-19 in the country, although 16 earlier known cases had resolved. All sailors returning from liberty ashore will be screened for COVID symptoms, including by taking their temperature.

March 8: New cases of COVID-19 are discovered in Vietnam, including two British tourists in Danang.

March 9: TR departs Danang.

March 10 and onward: Crewmembers fly on and off the ship as part of normal operations.

March 15: A sailor aboard the amphibious assault ship Boxer in San Diego becomes the first known COVID-19 case aboard a U.S. Navy warship.

March 18: The Navy finds two more shipboard cases: one sailor on the littoral combat ship Coronado in San Diego, one on the destroyer Ralph Johnson in Washington state. 

March 22: The first TR sailor is diagnosed with COVID-19.

March 24: Two more TR sailors are diagnosed with COVID-19. They are medevaced off the ship.

March 25: Five more TR sailors are diagnosed with COVID-19 and medevaced off the ship.

March 26: TR begins testing entire crew for COVID-19. In Washington, Acting Secretary Modly and other Navy officials say the carrier will pull into port in Guam, fulfilling plans for a second port visit there, and that no TR sailor will be allowed to leave the pier, save those being treated at Naval Hospital Guam. 

March 27: TR is pierside in Guam for the second time in its deployment. 

March 28: Eight sailors have been sent to Naval Hospital Guam for treatment for COVID-19.

Saturday, March 29

Monday, March 30

Tuesday, March 31

Wednesday, April 1

Thursday, April 2

Friday, April 3

Saturday, April 4

Sunday, April 5

Monday, April 6

Tuesday, April 7

Wednesday, April 8

Friday, April 10

Saturday, April 11

Monday, April 13

Tuesday, April 14



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By Bradley Peniston // Bradley Peniston is deputy editor of Defense One. A national security journalist for two decades, he helped launch, served as managing editor of Defense News, and was editor of Armed Forces Journal. His books include No Higher Honor: Saving the USS Samuel B. Roberts in the Persian Gulf, now part of the Chief of Naval Operations' Professional Reading Program.

April 7, 2020