Norfolk, Va. - The USS Theodore Roosevelt finally left Naval Station Norfolk on its world deployment after a two-day delay.
What held up the ship's departure? A mysterious "sea creature" was clogging the ship's seawater intake piping.
Researchers have identified the creature as a filter feeder that's common in the James and Elizabeth Rivers -- Bryozoa.
According to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Bryozoans are "inconspicuous filter feeders that grow in thin, encrusting colonies atop rocks, kelp blades, shellfish, and other hard objects."
"Just because they don't have parliaments and they don't shoot guns doesn't mean they should be ignored," said VIMS Professor of Marine Science Roger Mann. "If you think about how these communities build on clean surfaces, bacteria sets on it and something sets on that and before you know it you have a nice community. They are difficult to remove because evolutionary they are very good at what they do, which is attach."
This isn't the first time that Bryozoa is rumored to be the culprit for delaying scheduled deployments. When the USS George H.W. Bush left in February, they were delayed for several hours and Bryozoa is said to be the cause.
“It’s winter time in Hampton Roads and it’s not uncommon in the James River for marine growth to love this kind of water and temperature and we are experiencing that right now, “ said Captain Daniel Grieco. “So we have some intakes on the inner side of the ship that have gotten clogged with sea growth [bryozoa] and we are just in the process of making sure we do things right, we are extracting that and removing it and as soon as we have that completed we will get ourselves underway.”
"I'm sure the Navy has been dealing with this for a long time," Professor Mann added. "They will probably continue to deal with it. Biology isn't going to change."
"The crew has done an absolutely stellar job getting TR ready for deployment," said Capt. Daniel C. Grieco, TR's commanding officer. "We're at the point where the ship's systems are perfect and ready to go and the crew is as sharp as they can possibly be."
"This is a unique deployment that will actually encompass three different areas of responsibility or AORs," said Grieco. "We will start off going to 6th Fleet, which is in the Mediterranean, then head on to 5th Fleet, the Middle East, and we will continue through 7th Fleet area of operations before we wind up at the end in San Diego."
"This is my first deployment," said Damage Controlman Fireman Norman Sanders, from Portage, Indiana. "I just know that it will be a great learning experience, and will give me opportunities I have never had before, so I am very excited."
The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG) consists of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12, TR, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 2 staff, the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60), and the guided-missile destroyers USS Farragut (DDG 99), USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98) and USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81).
"This will be my 11th deployment and my fifth set of work-ups in a command position. We are more ready to conduct sustained operations at sea as we embark on this deployment than ever before," said Rear Adm. Andrew Lewis, commander, Carrier Strike Group 12. "The Strike Group's components, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Carrier Air Wing One, Destroyer Squadron 2, and the USS Normandy, are mission-focused and well led. We are grateful for the support of the maintenance and training communities as well as the type commands preparing us for this deployment. I want to thank the families and friends of our people for their support and service to our Navy. I know you are tremendously proud of each and every Sailor and Marine in the Strike Group. I am personally committed to their safety and security, and I am confident these great Americans will persevere in every mission."
TR's deployment will be a world tour, which will end with her completing a homeport shift to San Diego. TR's change in homeport is part of a three carrier shift involving the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and the USS George Washington (CVN 74).