Coronavirus News Asia

Blue water showdown: USS Reagan underway

Military pundits trumpeted that the US Navy fleet had handed over the South China Sea on a plate with its carriers in port over Covid-19 concerns and dry dock repairs, leaving the vast region to China to flex its muscle.

Apparently, the fun is over — USNI News has learned that USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) is underway, back at sea for trials after its annual repair period in Japan and ahead of its spring patrol in the Western Pacific.

“I think it means a lot not only to our sailors of our strike group but also to our nation as a whole and our partners and allies that we get Reagan back to sea and back out on deployment where she belongs,” Task Force 70 Commander Rear Adm. George Wikoff told Stars and Stripes.

The carrier left on Monday from its berth in Yokosuka following an extended quarantine period for the crew of the carrier, as well as several escorts, as part of the Navy’s attempts to keep the Covid-19 virus off of the carrier, service officials confirmed to USNI News earlier this week.

Like the West Coast Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, Task Force 70 ordered the crew into a restriction of movement (ROM) period in Japan ahead of the sea trials.

At the conclusion of the ROM, US 7th Fleet discovered several asymptomatic positive Covid-19 sailors and kept them off the carrier, USNI News reported.

The Navy did not disclose the number of cases, but The New York Times reported there have been at least 16 positive cases from sailors assigned to Reagan.

Aircraft from Carrier Air Wing 5 fly in formation over the Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Credit: Kaila V. Peters/US Navy.

The quarantine period ahead of deployment is one of the lessons the Navy is absorbing from the outbreak on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) that has sidelined the carrier in Guam since March 27, USNI News reported.

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