Navy captain fired by Trump administration for trying to save his crew
Captain Brett Crozier, was relieved of his command of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt on Thursday after his superiors lost confidence in his ability to lead.
As Capt Crozier left on Thursday night he was given a standing ovation and cheered on by members of the 5,000-strong crew, who chanted “Captain Crozier, Captain Crozier” as he departed.
Earlier in the week, Capt Crozier sent a letter to the Navy, obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle, asking for the crew to be isolated completely in order to try and stop the spread of a coronavirus outbreak onboard the ship.
“Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed US nuclear aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure…This is a necessary risk,” he wrote.
“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.”
During his press conference on Thursday evening, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the decision to sack Capt Crozier was his alone and explained that the captain’s actions forced his hand.
“I have no doubt in my mind that Captain Crozier did what he thought was in the best interest of the safety and well-being of his crew,” he said. “Unfortunately, it did the opposite. It unnecessarily raised the alarm of the families of our sailors and Marines with no plans to address those concerns.”
Mr Modly added his admiration for the captain: “I expect no congratulations for it. Captain Crozier is an incredible man.”
Earlier in the day, at his daily press conference, President Donald Trump was asked by a reporter if he thought the decision was the correct one, replying: “No, I don’t think that at all.”
The decision to relieve the captain of his duties was criticised by the Democratic frontrunner for the presidential nomination, Joe Biden, who released a statement on Thursday evening saying that Capt Crozier should not have been fired.
“Donald Trump’s Acting Navy Secretary shot the messenger – a commanding officer who was faithful to both his national security mission and his duty to care for his sailors, and who rightly focused attention on a broader concern about how to maintain military readiness during this pandemic,” said Mr Biden.
“The Navy sent a chilling message to the rest of the fleet about speaking truth to power. The poor judgment here belongs to the Trump Administration, not a courageous officer trying to protect his sailors.”