Coronavirus News Asia

Navy reverses course, backs firing of carrier captain

The strange tale of Captain Brett Crozier — the aircraft carrier captain who warned about the spread of the coronavirus pandemic aboard his ship — continues with yet another unexpected twist.

The US Navy announced on Friday that the fired commander of nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt will not be reinstated, Xinhua reported.

“I will not re-assign Captain Brett Crozier as the commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, nor will he be eligible for future command,” Chief of Naval Operations Mike Gilday told reporters at the Pentagon.

Crozier was removed from his post in early April after an internal letter he wrote pleading for help with the Covid-19 outbreak on the USS Theodore Roosevelt was leaked to the media, Xinhua reported.

A preliminary probe by the Navy recommended that Crozier be reinstated but Gilday said he has changed his mind after what he called a “much broader, deeper investigation.”

“Had I known then what I know today, I would have not made the recommendation to re-instate Captain Crozier,” Gilday said. “Moreover, if Captain Crozier were still in command today, I would be relieving him.”

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper “believes the investigation to be thorough, fair,” and supports the Navy’s decisions based on the findings, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman tweeted.

Crozier, in his letter, warned at that time of dire consequences if the outbreak on the ship was not handled quickly, Xinhua reported.

“We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die,” Crozier wrote. “If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our sailors.”

Crozier was swiftly fired by then-acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, who himself resigned later after his remarks lashing out at the captain backfired, Xinhua reported.

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