(SOUNDBITE) (English) ACTING U.S. NAVY SECRETARY THOMAS MODLY, SAYING: "I'm here today to inform you that today, at my direction, the commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Captain Brett Crozier, was relieved of command..." The U.S. Navy on Thursday relieved the commander who wrote a scathing letter this week that leaked to the public asking the Navy for stronger measures to control a coronavirus outbreak onboard his ship.
The removal of Captain Brett Crozier was announced by acting U.S. Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, who said the commander exercised poor judgment because he didn't take care to ensure his letter couldn't be leaked.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) ACTING U.S. NAVY SECRETARY THOMAS MODLY, SAYING: "I did not come to his decision lightly.
I have no doubt in my mind that Captain Crozier did what he thought was in the best interest of the safety and wellbeing of his crew.
Unfortunately, it did the opposite.
It unnecessarily raised alarms with the families of our sailors and marines with no plan to address those concerns... The letter was sent over non-secure unclassified email... And it wasn't just sent up the chain of command, it was sent and copied to a broad array of other people." In the four-page letter, Crozier described a bleak situation aboard the nuclear-powered vessel and called for removing over 4,000 sailors from the ship and isolating them, saying: "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." It was those words that put the Pentagon on the defensive.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) ACTING U.S. NAVY SECRETARY THOMAS MODLY, SAYING: "When the commanding officer of the USS Teddy Roosevelt decided to write his letter on the 30th of March, 2020 that outlined his concerns for his crew in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, the department of the Navy had already mobilized significant resources for days in response to his previous requests.
[FLASH] Worse, the captain's actions made his sailors, their families and many in the public believe that his letter was the only reason help from our larger Navy family was forthcoming, which was hardly the case." Over 100 personnel on the ship have tested positive for the coronavirus so far.
The ship was in the Pacific when the Navy reported its first coronavirus case a week ago.
It has since docked at the U.S. Naval base in Guam, where Rear Admiral Carlos Sardiello - the previous captain of the Theodore Roosevelt - took back command.