Veterans have spoken out against the decision to relieve the captain of the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt after he sent a letter to the Navy pleading for help after his ship was stricken with the coronavirus.
Thomas Modly, the acting secretary of the Navy, accused Capt. Brett Crozier of having “poor judgment” for using a “non-secure, unclassified” email address to write an email to his immediate chain of command which also included “20 or 30” additional recipients.
Crozier’s letter, which was then leaked and published by the San Francisco Chronicle, asked officials for help in isolating more than 4,000 sailors onboard the aircraft carrier docked in Guam, after a COVID-19 outbreak was detected among its crew. A day after the letter was published, around 1,000 sailors were removed from the Theodore Roosevelt. A total of 114 crew have since tested positive for COVID-19.
Crozier said the move was necessary as the warship’s “inherent limitations of space” meant the virus was spreading rapidly despite the other crew members distancing themselves.
“This will require a political solution but it is the right thing to do,” Crozier wrote. “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.”
Speaking at a press conference, Modly said Crozier was not relieved because the letter was leaked — although he “did not take care to ensure that it couldn’t be leaked,” noting it appeared in his hometown paper — but for causing unnecessary panic.
Modly said Crozier’s actions made it seem like the Navy was only acting in response to his letter being leaked, which he said was not the case.