News & Politics

Navy Confirms Decision to Fire Carrier Captain Who Warned of Coronavirus Outbreak

FILE - In this May 29, 2003 file photo, sailors man the rails as the USS Theodore Roosevelt is maneuvered into it's berth at the Norfolk Naval Station in Norfolk, Va. Defense Secretary Carter was flying Thursday onto the USS Theodore Roosevelt, an American aircraft carrier in the disputed waterway. Carter is using the visit to the USS Theodore Roosevelt to amplify the U.S. view that China is making excessive claims that nearly all of the South China Sea as its territory. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

The Navy is upholding its previous decision to relieve Capt. Brett Crozier, skipper of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, for actions taken at sea during a coronavirus outbreak aboard his vessel.

Previously, a board of inquiry recommended that Crozier not be relieved of his command. But Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday wanted a full-scale investigation and it was discovered that several command decisions made by Crozier resulted in making a bad situation worse.

Politico:

“Both Adm. Baker and Capt. Crozier fell far short of what we expect from those in command,” Gilday told reporters while announcing the results of the investigation. “Had I known what I know today I would have not made that recommendation to reinstate Capt. Crozier. Moreover, if Capt. Crozier was still in command today, I would be relieving him.”

The original decision to relieve Crozier was made after an email leaked to the press disclosing the epidemic aboard his ship and he pleaded for the Navy to help him. But the investigation revealed that Crozier did not leak the information and it was recommended he be reinstated.

The most recent investigation showed some serious lapses in judgment by Crozier.

The investigation found that neither Baker nor Crozier acted quickly enough to prevent the spread of the virus, Gilday said. They were slow to remove sailors from the ship and they also failed to move sailors to available safer environments quickly, he said.

Additionally, Crozier “exercised questionable judgment” when he released sailors from quarantine on the ship, putting his crew at higher risk and increasing the spread of the virus aboard the Roosevelt, Gilday said.

Democrats in Congress, just beginning their “Trump’s non-response is killing people” narrative saw coverup in the firing of Crozier. It turns out, the brass was right.

“When obstacles arose, both failed to tackle the problem head on and to take charge, and in a number of instances they placed crew comfort in front of crew safety,” Gilday said. “Ultimately they were driven by the problem instead of driving decisions.”

In another shift in the Navy’s thinking, Gilday said while officials earlier believed that the ship was first infected by aircraft crew resupplying the ship, they now think the virus came onboard during a port visit in Vietnam in early March.

And leave it to Democrats in Congress to find something to investigate.

“The findings in the Navy’s extended investigation makes it clear that the Navy did not respond the way they should have, or as quickly as they should have, to adequately address the outbreak,” Smith (D-Wash.) said in a statement.

The vessel was in the Pacific Ocean, largest body of water on the planet, and the Navy “did not respond the way they should have, or as quickly as they should have, to adequately address the outbreak”? The Navy had Crozier put into Guam, the nearest U.S. base, but short of evacuating the 5,000 sailers on the Roosevelt, what did Smith and the Democrats want?

It’s a serious matter to replace a ship’s captain and the Navy didn’t take it lightly. From the information released about the investigation, it appears that they acted correctly.

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