(Reuters) – A U.S. aircraft carrier ship whose captain was removed for scathing remarks about a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak onboard has returned to service in the Pacific Ocean, authorities said.

Capt. Brett Crozier lost his command in early April as punishment for the leak of a letter he sent to superiors seeking tougher action against the spread of COVID-19 on his ship, the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

Hailed as a hero by his crew, Crozier's case is now being reconsidered by the U.S. Navy which has recommended his reinstatement to Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

The massive carrier was sidelined for about 10 weeks because of the outbreak which infected a fifth of its 5,000 sailors, but set sail again from the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam on Thursday, the ship's public affairs office said.

It had a famous navy battle cry – “Don't Give Up The Ship” – flying from the port yardarm.

The ship returned to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to provide maritime security with new social distancing rules including staggered mealtimes, the Navy said.

“We have returned Theodore Roosevelt to sea as a symbol of hope and inspiration,” said new Captain Carlos Sardiello.