Navy upholds firing of USS Theodore Roosevelt Captain relieved amid coronavirus outbreak
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – The Navy upheld the firing Friday of the San Diego- based USS Theodore Roosevelt’s captain, who was relieved of command amid a COVID-19 outbreak aboard the ship, with Navy leadership alleging Crozier and his senior officer did not do enough to slow the spread of the virus.
Adm. Mike Gilday, chief of naval operations, said punitive actions now held against Capt. Brett Crozier stem from a lack of action when the outbreak began aboard the carrier.
Crozier won’t be eligible for further command, Gilday said, and a promotion slated for the ship’s senior officer, Rear Adm. Stuart Baker, “will be delayed pending further review.”
Gilday said the officers “did not do enough soon enough to fulfill their primary obligation and they did not effectively carry out our guidelines to prevent spread of the virus. They were slow egressing sailors off the ship and they failed to move sailors to available, safer environments quickly.”
Gilday said Crozier also “exercised questionable judgment when he released sailors from quarantine on the ship, which put his crew at higher risk and may have increased the spread of the virus aboard the Theodore Roosevelt.”
The ship spent months docked in Guam while its sailors were moved off- ship for treatment and quarantine. Crozier and more than 1,100 sailors aboard the ship were ultimately infected, with one crew member dying of complications from the virus in April.
In late March, Crozier sent a memo to Navy leadership asking for immediate assistance, the letter was widely publicized, leading then-Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly to fire Crozier less than a week later.
Gilday said the letter’s leak was the impetus for Crozier’s firing, but had nothing to do with the decision not to reinstate him.
Gilday said he previously believed Crozier should have been reinstated, but “a much broader, deeper investigation” led him to reverse his original stance.
“Had I known then what I know today, I would have not made that recommendation to reinstate Capt. Crozier. Moreover, if Capt. Crozier were still in command today, I would be relieving him,” Gilday said.
Modly resigned after his address to the USS Theodore Roosevelt’s crew, in which he called Crozier’s actions “a betrayal” and stated his belief that Crozier purposely copied his email to unauthorized parties to facilitate its publication, was made public.
“If he (Crozier) didn’t think that information was going to get out into the public in this information age that we live in, then he was a) either too naive or too stupid to be the commanding officer of a ship like this,” Modly said. “The alternative is that he did it on purpose, and that’s a serious violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.”