The captain of USS Theodore Roosevelt has been fired over the leak of his memo revealing the acceleration of Covid-19 transmission in the carrier, which has 5,000 sailors aboard.
"Today, at my direction, the commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Capt. Brett Crozier, was relieved of command," acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly told reporters at the Pentagon Thursday. "I did not come to this decision lightly."
Crozier on Sunday wrote a letter to Navy leadership pleading for a "decisive action" to get the sailors off shore to curb further spread of Covid-19, which has infected nearly 93 sailors.
Crozier's letter was leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle, the captain's hometown newspaper, which published the commanding officer's letter Tuesday. It has since publicly circulated.
"The spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating," the CO wrote in the letter. "We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our sailors."
The Navy said more 1,000 sailors on Roosevelt, which is currently ported in Guam, have already been evacuated from the carrier and more are expected to be brought ashore today. The local government has granted the Navy's request to provide a quarantine site for the sailors.
Modly said he was disappointed with some of the things the captain wrote but stressed that the fact that Crozier "wrote the letter up to his chain of command to express his concerns would absolutely not result in any type of retaliation.""
But leaking the memo to the media, Modly said, "would be something that would violate good order and discipline." In seeking the sailors' evacuation, Crozier described focus on testing as "inappropriate" as it "has no direct influence on the spread of the Covid-19 virus. It merely confirms the presence of the virus."