U.S. Navy relieves Captain Brett Crozier of Duty

Captain Brett Crozier, the commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

Brett Crozier

Captain Brett Crozier, the commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

U.S. Navy Captain Brett Crozier, the commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, was relieved of command due to his poor judgment while handling an issue related to the COVID-19 pandemic last Thursday.  Crozier wrote a letter raising concerns about the spread of the virus last Sunday. Crozier was relieved of his duty because he didn’t communicate with his superiors before releasing the letter, which led to an “unnecessary” panic.

In the letter, Mr.Crozier asked for more supplies to fight a Coronavirus outbreak on his ship, currently docked in Guam. He also estimated that 50 of his men would die from complications caused by the virus. Roughly 3,000 sailors that usually serve aboard the USS Theodore Rosevelt are waiting for their test results to come back. 114 of the sailors have already tested positive for the Coronavirus. 

“We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to take care of our most trusted asset, our sailors,” Mr. Crozier said from the memo obtained by the associated press.

The letter implied that the Navy was not responding to Mr. Crozier’s needs. However, prior to sending the email, Crozier made no effort to let acting Secretary of the Navy, Thomas Modly know that he was in need of more supplies. Mr. Modly, who relieved Mr. Crozier, said it was his intent for the captain to be reassigned, not dismissed from the Navy altogether. Though Mr. Modly agrees that Mr. Crozier was right to speak up, the former Navy Secretary said he should have gone about it differently.

“It raised alarm bells unnecessarily, it created the impression that the navy wasn’t responding to his questions,” Mr. Modly said in a statement at the Washington Pentagon. “[Crozier sending the letter] showed extremely poor judgment.”

Mr. Modly believes Crozier should have contacted or gone through his chain of command. There are still roughly 1,000 people stationed on the USS Theodore Roosevelt to run essential duties. Mr. Crozier will still keep his rank and status. Nonetheless, many were shocked by Mr. Modly’s decision.

An online petition was created to reinstate Mr. Crozier, which received over 280,000 signatures. Videos were also released of Mr. Crozier saying goodbye to his crew members, as groups of men applauded and chanted his name.