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Nimitz and its strike group deploy

The aircraft carrier Nimitz and portions of its strike group left San Diego Monday for a deployment.

Navy officials declined to say where the 45-year-old carrier and its warships were headed.

Sailors assigned to the strike group were quarantined on land for 14 days and were tested for COVID-19 prior to getting underway, according to a Navy statement.

Nimitz sailors completed a 27-day fast cruise aboard the ship, which included a testing period for the virus.

During the composite training unit exercise carried out by the strike group before deploying, units got acclimated with COVID-19 prevention best practices such as wearing face masks, minimizing meetings and gatherings, social distancing and cleaning of spaces several times a day, practices that will be continued throughout the deployment, according to the Navy.

Navy leaders have in recent weeks emphasized a “bubble” mentality, keeping crews isolated ashore before loading up a coronavirus-free crew into the ship so as to avoid outbreaks similar to the one seen this spring aboard the carrier Theodore Roosevelt.

Vice Adm. Phillip Sawyer, deputy chief of naval operations for operations, plans and strategy, noted last month that measures to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus “are not perfect.”

“There are those seams and that’s why the virus can sneak in on us,” Sawyer said. “We just take as much precaution as we possibly can.”

Units rounding out the strike group and joining the 45-year-old Nimitz on its latest deployment include the guided-missile cruiser Princeton as well as the destroyers Sterett and Ralph Johnson.

In the air, Carrier Air Wing 17 is comprised of Strike Fighter Squadrons 137, 94 and 22, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 323, Electronic Attack Squadron 139, Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 116, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 6, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 73 and Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 30.

Sterett left Naval Base San Diego on Thursday, while the Princeton headed out Saturday. Ralph Johnson will get underway Tuesday.

Are you a sailor whose ship or unit has had a COVID-19 outbreak? Email geoffz@militarytimes.com and tell us about it.

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