US Navy Fires USS Theodore Roosevelt Captain for ‘Extremely Poor Judgment’ After He Pleaded for Help as Coronavirus Spread Among Crew

The Navy fired the captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt on Thursday, four days after he pleaded for help as the coronavirus ravaged his crew, the Navy announced.

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly announced that Navy Capt. Brett Crozier was relieved for loss of confidence.

“I just know that he exercised extremely poor judgment,” Modly said.

Crozier had sent an urgent letter to the U.S. Navy on Sunday, seeking to evacuate and isolate the crew as cases of coronavirus infection increased on the vessel. “Decisive action” was required to prevent deaths from the coronavirus, Crozier wrote. The ship’s close quarters prevented sailors from following guidelines to keep them safe.

Modly said Thursday that the Navy had been speeding help to the Roosevelt before Crozier had sent his letter.

Democrats who lead the House Armed Services committee blasted Modly for firing Crozier. The lawmakers acknowledged Crozier improperly went outside the chain of command in releasing his letter, but they called his dismissal an overreaction.

 “Throwing the commanding officer overboard without a thorough investigation is not going to solve the growing crisis aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt,” the Democrats, led by Rep. Adam Smith, D- Wash., and chairman of the committee, said in a statement. “What’s more, we are very concerned about the chilling effect this dismissal will have on commanders throughout the Department of Defense. Dismissing a commanding officer for speaking out on issues critical to the safety of those under their command discourages others from raising similar concerns.”

By Wednesday the Navy had evacuated about 1,000 sailors from the nuclear-powered ship, which is docked at Guam. About one-quarter of the 4,800 member crew had been tested for the virus, and 93 had been found to have COVID-19.

None were seriously ill, according the Navy.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Tom Vanden Brook