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Navy considering reinstating fired aircraft carrier captain

Capt. Brett Crozier addresses the crew for the first time as commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) during a change of command ceremony on the ship’s flight deck. Crozier relieved Capt. Carlos Sardiello to become the 16th commanding officer of Theodore Roosevelt. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sean Lynch/Released)
April 16, 2020

The U.S. Navy is considering reinstating Captain Brett Crozier after he was fired for pleading for help to deal with the spread of the deadly coronavirus on the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

Adm. Michael M. Gilday is reviewing the findings of a preliminary investigation into Crozier’s firing, and “no final decisions have been made” so far, Gilday’s spokesperson, Cmdr. Nate Christensen, told the New York Times on Wednesday.

Crozier was fired on April 2 by then-Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly for allegedly leaking a letter he wrote to his chain of command, in which he pleaded for help to stop the coronavirus outbreak aboard the ship.

Modly resigned from his position on April 7 after a speech he gave leaked calling Crozier “stupid” for sending the letter, which was first published by the San Francisco Chronicle on March 31. Navy officials haven’t confirmed if Crozier sent the letter directly to the publication.

“If he didn’t think … that this information wasn’t going to get out into the public, in this day and information age that we live in, then he was either A, too naïve or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this,” Modly said, according to a recording of the speech.

Crozier wrote in his letter, which he sent to at least 20 people, that the Navy needs to act quickly, and failing to do so will place sailors’ lives at risk. The USS Theodore Roosevelt at that time had 100 of the U.S. Navy’s 500 COVID-19 cases.

“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,” Crozier wrote, according to the copy obtained by the Chronicle.

“Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure. … This is a necessary risk,” Crozier added. “Keeping over 4,000 young men and women on board the TR is an unnecessary risk and breaks faith with those Sailors entrusted to our care.”

Modly apologized for his statement, saying that he lost “situational awareness” and “decided to speak with them as if I was their commander, or their shipmate, rather than their Secretary.”

“They deserved better, and I hope that over the passage of time that they will understand the words themselves rather than the manner in which they were delivered. But what’s done is done. I can’t take it back,” he added.

Crew members abroad the USS Theodore Roosevelt appeared to support their captain even as he left the ship, and could be seen in several videos chanting and cheering for Crozier.

Crozier is currently in isolation to treat his COVID-19 symptoms, according to the Times.