U.S. Navy Cpt. Brett Crozier, who was relieved of his command of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, has tested positive with coronavirus, according to the New York Times.
The news of Crozier’s positive coronavirus test results were relayed to New York Times by two unnamed U.S. Naval Academy classmates of the former aircraft carrier captain. Crozier reportedly began showing symptoms of the virus even before he was relieved of his command of the carrier on Thursday.
Crozier was relieved of his command on Thursday after an outbreak of coronavirus aboard the aircraft carrier became a high profile event. In a memo, Crozier warned of likely deaths of U.S. Navy personnel to the virus as a consequence if the ship did not offload the majority of its crew for quarantining. The memo became the subject of public scrutiny after it was eventually leaked to members of the news media, particularly the San Francisco Chronicle, which first reported on the Cpt. Crozier’s calls for help.
On Wednesday, Crozier and the Governor of Guam began offloading many of the aircraft carrier’s roughly 5,000 crew members, to seek isolation for two weeks to end the spread of the virus aboard the ship.
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly decided to relieve Crozier over what he viewed as a loss of confidence in the captain. Modly said the decision to order Crozier’s removal came in response to concerns that the captain went outside of his chain of command when he wrote his memo and that Crozier chose to issue his concerns over unsecured email rather than secured methods of communication onboard the carrier. In choosing that unsecured means of communication, Modly said Crozier’s memo harmed the operational security of the ship.
“It raised concerns about the operational capabilities and operational security of the ship that could have emboldened our adversaries to seek advantage,” Modly said of Crozier’s memo, “And it undermined the chain of command who had been moving and adjusting as rapidly as possible to get him the help he needed.”
Modly said he had opened a direct line of communication to Crozier when the ship first began reporting cases and diverted from its course in the Philippine Sea to seek port in Guam. Modly said he had directed resources to help the aircraft carrier before Crozier wrote his letter. Modly said Crozier had not raised the same concerns about the severity of the coronavirus outbreak on the ship in prior communications as he did in his high profile letter.
Many of the crew aboard the carrier appeared to support their captain even as he left the ship, and could be seen in several videos chanting and cheering for Crozier.
Following his loss of command, Crozier was reportedly being reassigned to the headquarters of the Naval Air Forces Pacific command in San Diego. With Crozier’s diagnosis, he will have to complete a quarantine period before moving onto his new position.
Crozier’s Naval Academy classmates told the New York Times Crozier was staying in the “distinguished visitors quarters” on Naval Base Guam for the duration of his quarantine.