The captain of the aircraft carrier USS Roosevelt has been removed from duties after showing poor judgment of the situation inside the carrier. The Navy Secretary said on Thursday, April 3, the officer was relieved of his duties after he sent a memo to Navy leadership about the decisive action that needed to be taken to save the lives of the ship's crew.
According to the Pentagon press briefing on Thursday, Secretary of Navy Thomas Modly said: "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."
Modly said that Crozier was removed not because of any evidence that suggested that he released the memo to the press but because of the lack of professionalism while making the judgment of the situation inside the carrier. The Secretary also said that the outbreak clouded his judgment and made him build a "firestorm" of the situation. The information released by the press was in the memo written by Crozier to the Naval leadership but Modly didn't show any suspicion on the captain about releasing the information to the press.
Memo over an unsecured system
The Navy's Pacific Fleet received the e-mail containing Crozier's worry about the situation. According to CNN, the memo read: "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."
Modly also said that Crozier sent the memo over an insecure system that is outside the chain of command. This added to the chance of it being leaked. The Secretary said that a secure way to send the memo is his responsibility and he did not follow it. The move was opposed by the Democrats in the House Armed Services Committee. They said that this outbreak could destabilize the officers and "jeopardize" the readiness of the forces.
The outbreak on the carrier escalated rather rapidly. There have been 144 cases from USS Theodore Roosevelt. Another US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagen has a handful of cases that have tested positive for the Covid-19. The memo asked the naval leaders to implore the situation as soon as possible. On Wednesday it was reported that 1,273 of the ship's roughly 4,800 crew members had tested positive for the coronavirus. Sailors have also been quarantined.