The captain of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, Brett Crozier, was dismissed by Navy higher-ups on Thursday — a move that was precipitated by Crozier sending a letter earlier this week to military leaders pleading for help with the outbreak of coronavirus cases onboard Crozier’s aircraft carrier.
In the letter that was later leaked, Crozier wrote that “decisive action” was needed for the ship which was forced to dock in Guam. “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die,” he said.
Crozier continued, “If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our sailors.”
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly relieved Crozier from his command of the carrier, which held a crew of nearly 5,000 sailors, and explained that the captain was fired for “not working with the chain of command.” Modly did not confirm who leaked the letter but did say it was emailed to 20-30 people.
As of Wednesday, with 93 of the sailors on the aircraft already testing positive for the coronavirus, Modly said the ship’s captain would not face retaliation for a blunt letter. But by Thursday, Crozier’s fate took a turn in a pattern consistent for most who dare to speak out or speak truth to power under the Trump administration — no matter how righteous the cause, the whistleblower, if discovered, is shown the door.
“I could reach no other conclusion that Capt. Crozier had allowed the complexity of his challenge with the COVID breakout on the ship to overwhelm his ability to act professionally when acting professionally was what was needed at the most at the time,” Modly said. “We do and we should expect more from the commanding officers of our aircraft carriers.”