Mary Margaret Olohan
The U.S. Navy fired the captain of a nuclear aircraft who begged Navy officials for help for over 100 sailors on his ship who have coronavirus.
Capt. Brett Crozier was relieved of his duties after writing a letter begging officials to send help to the aircraft carrier, the Theodore Roosevelt, so his men would not die. Crozier’s letter was obtained exclusively by the Chronicle and confirmed by a senior officer on board the aircraft carrier.
“Today at my direction the commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Captain Brett Crozier, was relieved of command by carrier strike group commander Rear Admiral Stewart Baker,” acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly said Thursday during a Pentagon press briefing, according to CNN.
Modly said the captain was not removed from his position based on any evidence that Crozier shared the memo with the press. Crozier was removed from his duties for allowing “the complexity of his challenge with the COVID breakout on the ship to overwhelm his ability to act professionally when acting professionally was what was needed the most at the time,” the acting secretary of the Navy said.
“I have no information nor am I trying to suggest that he leaked the information. It was published in the San Francisco Chronicle. It all came as a big surprise to all of us that it was in the paper and that’s the first time I had seen it,” Modly added, according to CNN. “What I will say, he sent it out pretty broadly and in sending it out broadly he did not take care to ensure that it couldn’t be leaked and that’s part of his responsibility in my opinion.”
SCOOP-U.S. Navy expected to relieve commander of coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt after letter leaked. w/@idreesali114
— Phil Stewart (@phildstewart) April 2, 2020
“We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors,” Crozier said in the letter.
The captain also noted that the ship’s “inherent limitations of space” prevent the crew of over 4,000 sailors from being able to practice social distancing.
“The spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating,” Crozier wrote.
“Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure. … This is a necessary risk. Keeping over 4,000 young men and women on board the TR is an unnecessary risk and breaks faith with those Sailors entrusted to our care.”
This CO likely knew his career was done the moment he sent that letter
and that is what makes it all the more courageous and extraordinary https://t.co/nxPThQMXhJ
— Saagar Enjeti (@esaagar) April 2, 2020
“The current strategy will only slow the spread,” Crozier wrote. “The current plan in execution on TR will not achieve virus eradication on any timeline.”
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