Aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt returns to sea after coronavirus outbreak

The USS Theodore Roosevelt has been docked in Guam since March 27, as the 4,800 crew members went through rotations of quarantine. (US Marine Corps via AP)
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Updated 21 May 2020

Aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt returns to sea after coronavirus outbreak

  • The ship has been docked in Guam since March 27, as the 4,800 crew members went through rotations of quarantine
  • USS Theodore Roosevelt extensively cleaned and crew members taking a wide range of precautions to prevent another outbreak

WASHINGTON: After nearly two months sidelined in Guam with a coronavirus outbreak, the USS Theodore Roosevelt has gone out to sea for training, in preparation to return to duty in the Pacific.
The ship has been docked in Guam since March 27, as the 4,800 crew members went through rotations of quarantine, and more than 1,000 of them have tested positive for the virus over that time.
“It feels great to be back at sea,” Rear Adm. Stu Baker, commander of Carrier Strike Group 9, said in a statement. “Getting Theodore Roosevelt and Carrier Air Wing 11 one step closer to returning to their mission in the Indo-Pacific is a great achievement for the crew.”
In an Associated Press interview from the aircraft carrier earlier this week, Navy Capt. Carlos Sardiello said the ship will sail with a scaled-back crew of about 3,000, leaving about 1,800 sailors on shore who are still in quarantine or working with those who are. The sailors in quarantine include up to 14 who recently tested positive again for the virus, just days after getting cleared to return to the carrier.
The puzzling COVID-19 reappearance in the sailors adds to the difficulty in getting the ship’s crew healthy again, and fuels questions about the quality of the testing and just how long sailors may remain infected or contagious.
The ship plans to conduct required carrier qualifications for about two weeks, including recertification of the flight deck and fighter squadron, such as takeoffs and landings on the carrier. The ship will then return to Guam and pick up healthy crew members. If all goes well, it will set out again to conduct operations before eventually heading home to San Diego.
The ship has been extensively cleaned, and crew members are taking a wide range of precautions to prevent another outbreak, including social distancing, repeated medical checks, wearing masks and allowing fewer sailors in the mess halls at one time.
“I think we have set the conditions for a high probability of success, and we’re going to go to sea and do our mission,” Sardiello said.
The Roosevelt was at the center of a controversy that led to the firing of the ship’s previous captain, the resignation of the Navy secretary and an expanded investigation into what triggered the outbreak and how well top naval commanders handled it.
“It was an unprecedented challenge to get to this point and I’m proud of the Rough Rider Team’s tenacity and resiliency in the face of uncertainty,” Sardiello said in a statement issued as the carrier left Guam. “We are extremely thankful for the dedicated support and hospitality of Gov. Leon Guerrero, her staff and the people Guam.”


Islamic extremists targeted Europe every two weeks after fall of Daesh

Updated 27 September 2020

Islamic extremists targeted Europe every two weeks after fall of Daesh

  • Study, carried out by the Counter Extremism Group (CEG) in the UK, cited 33 confirmed plots of religiously motivated terrorism in European countries

LONDON: Extremists have attempted or carried out an attack in European countries every two weeks since the defeat of Daesh, a new report claims.

The study, carried out by the Counter Extremism Group (CEG) in the UK, cited 33 confirmed plots of religiously motivated terrorism in European countries in the months after Daesh forces were driven out of their last stronghold of Baghuz in Syria in March 2019.

The report warned that, despite Daesh’s collapse in the Middle East, the threat posed by Islamic extremists remained dangerously high, and that “tens of thousands of radicals scattered across Europe have not disappeared” because of its defeat, the Telegraph reported.

CEG’s analysis came from information dating back to January 2014 held by authorities in the UK and various European countries regarding known terror plots.

In comparison, extremists attempted or carried out a plot every week before the fall of Daesh.

Using June of this year as a cut-off point, CEG said there had been an average of 2.2 plots per month since March last year, with 11 of the attacks leading to “either deaths or injuries” — with six attacks in France, four in Britain, and one attack in Italy leading to 12 people being killed and 39 being injured.

The report added that the UK, France and Germany remained the most targeted countries, as they were during the peak of Daesh’s power, but that all plots targeting Germany in the period were thwarted.

The study added “lone actor” attacks had become more common — with eight out of nine of the attacks in Britain in the 15 month period carried out by individuals — and that the style of attack had tended to have “greater chance of success.”

While restrictions and lockdowns imposed across Europe due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic had led to a lack of mass gatherings, or “soft targets,” CEG said there were still seven confirmed plots between March and June this year, with two in the UK including an attack in which three people were killed in Reading in June.

The report said an “aspect of command and control from overseas” had dropped markedly since the collapse of Daesh.

“Most cases studied in this report did not demonstrate any evidence of external assistance or guidance from a foreign terrorist organization,” CEG said, but added: “It is inspiration rather than direction that ISIS (Daesh) is largely able to offer its supporters in 2020.”

More than 40,000 people have been placed on the MI5 Islamic terror watchlist in the UK, according to the Telegraph, which includes suspected foreign individuals that could travel to the UK, with 25,000 UK-based suspects on the list and 3,000 individuals under investigation at any point.

The CEG’s director, Robin Simcox, said: “Removing the Caliphate in Syria and Iraq was an effective blow against ISIS and a welcome victory in the battle against Islamist terrorism.

“However, Europe has since faced numerous plots that have no operational links to foreign terrorist groups but should be considered part of a broader, global jihad. COVID-19 has not changed this underlying dynamic, as the rate of alleged plots and attacks in Europe has remained steady even during the pandemic. The overall Islamist threat endures,” he added.