The commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Captain Brett Crozier, has been relieved from duty after claiming that the United States Navy did not provide sufficient assistance for the novel coronavirus outbreak which occurred on the ship.
Crozier penned a letter to the US Navy, calling for urgent action to ensure the safety of those on board the ship.
This letter became the basis of Crozier’s dismissal. The navy claimed that the captain acted in “poor judgment” and his actions led to the leaking of the letter to the media. “I have no doubt in my mind that Captain Crozier did what he thought was in the best interest of the safety and well-being of his crew. Unfortunately, it did the opposite.
The letter was sent over a non-secure unclassified email and it wasn’t just sent up the chain of command, it was sent and copied to a broad array of other people,” said acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly in a statement on April 2.
In the four-page letter leaked to the public, Crozier condemned the lack of response from the US Navy. The letter also requested for the crew of 5,000 members to be rescued. The letter purportedly questioned the capabilities of the Pentagon in keeping the ship’s crew members safe and had alarmed the family members of the crew.
The aircraft carrier has since been docked at the US Naval Base Guam for a week after it reported its first coronavirus case on board. Over 100 crew members have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Several political leaders, including US presidential candidate Joe Biden and Democratic Senator Mark Warner, have hit back over the decision to relieve the captain of his duties.
“Donald Trump’s Acting Navy Secretary shot the messenger – a commanding officer who was faithful to both his national security mission and his duty to care for his sailors, and who rightly focused attention on a broader concern about how to maintain military readiness during this pandemic,” Biden said in a statement to Reuters.
Senator Warner argues that the captain was unfairly dismissed. “I don’t know why you would punish someone for that, especially with so many lives at stake,” he said.