Home News Navy expected to relieve captain who raised alarm about COVID-19 outbreak on aircraft carrier

Navy expected to relieve captain who raised alarm about COVID-19 outbreak on aircraft carrier

by Paul Goldberg
Navy expected to relieve captain who raised alarm about COVID-19 outbreak on aircraft carrier

Per Idrees Ali of Reuters:

U.S. Navy is expected to relieve commander of coronavirus-hit Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier for a loss of confidence after a leaked letter, sources tell Reuters.

The sources said Captain Brett Crozier was being relieved not because he wrote the letter and sent it up through the chain of command but because they believe he leaked it to the media.

NBC reports the Navy is expected to announce it has relieved the captain who sounded the alarm about an outbreak of COVID-19 aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, according to two U.S. officials.

Capt. Brett Crozier, who commands the Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier with a crew of nearly 5,000, will be relieved of his command, but keep his rank and remain in the Navy.

Crozier raised the alarm earlier this week that sailors on the ship need to be quarantined to stop the spread of the virus. His plea for assistance quickly made headlines.

Crozier sent a letter to the Navy on Monday begging for help addressing the coronavirus outbreak aboard his ship, which was forced to dock in Guam last week. The ship leadership began testing everyone on board. By Wednesday, there were 93 positive test results and more than 1,000 people had departed the ship into isolation on Guam. In total, 2,700 people are expected to disembark the ship this week, with a smaller crew remaining to maintain the ship.

The move is expected to be announced in a briefing by Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly Thursday evening. The official reason for Crozier’s relief of duty is a loss of trust and confidence, according to the officials who spoke to NBC News.

Per MSN, Captain Brett Crozier wrote in a four-page letter that they had not been able to stem the spread of COVID-19 through the 4,000 crew members, describing a dire situation aboard the vessel now docked at Guam, a US territory in the Pacific.

“We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die,” Crozier wrote, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, which published a copy of the letter on Tuesday.

“The spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating,” Crozier wrote, referring to the ship’s “inherent limitations of space.”

He asked to be able to quarantine nearly the entire crew onshore at Guam, saying keeping them all on board the ship was an “unnecessary risk.”

There is little opportunity for “social distancing”, which US civilians have been told to practice, among the cramped passageways and sleeping quarters of an aircraft carrier.

“Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed US nuclear aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure,” he said. “This is a necessary risk.”

Asked on the CBS Evening News whether it was time for an evacuation, Esper said: I don’t think we’re at that point.”

He added that supplies and medical assistance are being moved out to the Roosevelt.

“We’re providing additional medical medical personnel as they need it.”

He added that “none of them are seriously ill” and the Navy is “trying to make sure that we contain the virus, that we deploy testing kits. We get a good assessment of how much of the crew is infected.”

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