AGENCIES, Washington: Sometimes the truth can been painful as the commander of USS Roosevelt, a nuclear-powered aircraft carried discovered that he had lost his job just because he wanted to save his crew from the COVID-19 pandemic.
So what actually happened? Captain Brett Crozier had requested the Navy to take “decisive action” to halt the spread of the virus aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The powerful letter he wrote was leaked to the media and the Trump administration came down on him. Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly on Thursday relieved the officer from his duties by accusing him of demonstrating extremely poor judgment in the middle of a crisis in his handling of the letter.
Crozier’s dismissal came as the Pentagon struggles to maintain the readiness of its air, sea and ground forces around the world as the COVID-19 virus sweeps the globe, all the while providing domestic US support to government efforts to contain the virus and treat the infected.
With dozens of its sailors infected after a five-day official visit to Vietnam, the Roosevelt sailed into the US naval base at Guam in the western Pacific on March 28.
On Tuesday, a letter that Crozier wrote to his superiors pleading to vacate as much of the ship as possible and put most of its 4,800 sailors in quarantine on land was leaked to US newspapers, angering the Pentagon leadership.
“We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die,” he pleaded in the letter. Modly said the letter misrepresented how the Navy was dealing with the ship and caused unnecessary panic.
In political circles, a group of 17 Democratic and independent senators called for the Pentagon’s inspector general to review Crozier’s dismissal decision.
Former vice president Joe Biden called Crozier’s sacking “a chilling message about speaking truth to power.” “The poor judgment here belongs to the Trump Admin, not a courageous officer trying to protect his sailors,” Biden said in a tweet.
After public outcry over the issue, Modly revealed on Friday to news agency Reuters that Crozier was being reassigned rather than discharged.