NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The USS Theodore Roosevelt finally departed Wednesday morning after its deployment was delayed for several days.
“We got held up by some marine growth that we couldn’t do anything about,” Adm. Andy Lewis said about a half hour before the USS Roosevelt finally left pier 14.
Navy Chief John Marsack led a crew of two dive teams to remove the seaweed-like creatures. “Navy deep sea divers came in and battled the creatures and we saved the day, if you want to put it that way,” he said.
The aircraft carrier, which was supposed to deploy Monday around 8 a.m., remained docked for two days because Bryozoa, a tiny marine organism that loves the James River, clogged the ship’s intake. Departure was pushed back several times until Navy officials eventually confirmed the ship would leave Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. However, the ship left before that.
Family and friends of the Sailors and marines on board who were able to see the delayed departure said they were lucky they could stick it out.
“I call us the strong and the few, because there’s not many of us left,” said newlywed Jessica Bueno, who is in the Navy. “It’s understandable, people have jobs and other priorities that they have to take care of.”
Bueno counts herself lucky for being able to extend leave and see the ship leave.
The USS Roosevelt is part of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, which includes the guided missile cruiser USS Normandy, the destroyers USS Winston Churchill and USS Forrest Sherman, and nine aircraft squadrons. All of the 6,000 Sailors and Marines left Naval Station Norfolk on time, other than those on the namesake carrier.
After the deployment, the USS Theodore Roosevelt will permanently transfer to her new homeport in San Diego, Ca. The USS George Washington Carrier will come to Hampton Roads for an overhaul.
Last year, the USS George H.W. Bush had to delay its deployment after tiny marine animals broke loose from the river bottom and got into the ship’s hull.