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Navy to open 'deeper investigation' into COVID-19 outbreak on Roosevelt

Hon. James McPherson, shown here in 2018 as General Counsel of the U.S. Army, said Wednesday the Navy will perform a deeper investigation into the COVID-19 outbreak on the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Photo by Teddy Wade/U.S. Army
Hon. James McPherson, shown here in 2018 as General Counsel of the U.S. Army, said Wednesday the Navy will perform a deeper investigation into the COVID-19 outbreak on the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Photo by Teddy Wade/U.S. Army

April 29 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy will open a deeper investigation into the coronavirus outbreak on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, acting secretary James McPherson said on Wednesday.

Last week McPherson, along with Chief of Naval operations Admiral Michael M. Gilday, recommended to Defense Secretary Mark Esper that the ship's captain, Brett Crozier, be reinstated.

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But McPherson said Wednesday that he has "unanswered questions" about the situation.

"This investigation will build on the good work of the initial inquiry to provide a more fulsome understanding of the sequence of events, actions, and decisions of the chain of command surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt," McPherson said in a statement.

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It was not immediately clear who would lead the investigation or what questions investigators will be directed to explore.

The Navy announced Wednesday the vessel is preparing to return to sea after a deep cleaning process over the last several weeks. As sailors complete their quarantine periods, they are due to start returning to the the Roosevelt in waves, starting with those responsible for critical services.

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The ship was deployed in the Pacific at the end of March when it docked in Guam to test its crew of nearly 5,000 after 23 had tested positive for COVID-19.

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That number has since climbed to 940 confirmed cases, 29 of whom have recovered and one of whom has died.

The ship's captain, Brett Crozier, was relieved of his role at the beginning of April after sending a memo pleading for more resources to help manage the outbreak.

Acting Navy secretary Thomas Modly traveled to Guam and criticized Crozier in an address to sailors aboard the vessel, saying he was either naive or stupid for allowing the letter to be leaked to the press.

RELATED Roosevelt crew isolation extended as Navy, CDC investigate COVID-19 outbreak

Modly then resigned from his role.

After being briefed on the Navy's initial investigation, Esper said he needed more information before making a decision on whether to reinstate the captain.

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