The sailors of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt returned to San Diego Tuesday following the completion of their second deployment in a year.

The carrier and its strike group struck out Dec. 23 after returning in July from 2020′s harrowing COVID cruise, in which roughly a quarter of the ship’s sailors were infected with the novel coronavirus last spring, prompting an emergency detour to Guam.

Due to COVID protocols, the carrier’s crew completed this deployment without any port visits, but the sailors trundled off the ship Tuesday to sunny San Diego skies and a nation that appears to be turning the corner in the battle against the pandemic.

This latest deployment saw TR’s Carrier Strike Group 9 spanning the globe, from the Indo-Pacific to the South China Sea and up to the chilly environs of the Gulf of Alaska.

“We met the challenges that COVID-19 brought head-on and successfully deployed forward to work with our allies and partners from Australia, India, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea,” said Rear Adm. Douglas Verissimo, the strike group’s commanding officer, in a news release announcing TR’s return.

In the South China Sea, TR teamed with the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group for dual-carrier operations and also worked with the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group.

“I am incredibly proud of this crew for all their hard work and sacrifice throughout this deployment,” TR’s commanding officer, Capt. Eric Anduze, said in a statement.

Other TR strike group ships, including the guided-missile cruiser Bunker Hill and the guided-missile destroyer Russell, have returned to San Diego in recent days as well.

Strike group sailors were offered the single-dose Johnson and Johnson COVID vaccine in late April, though officials have not said how many sailors opted to get it.

TR will soon head up to Bremerton, Washington, for a home port shift as it undergoes a shipyard maintenance availability.

Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at geoffz@militarytimes.com.

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