PITI, Guam — Capt. Brett Crozier was removed from his post as commanding officer of the San Diego-based USS Theodore Roosevelt, but he got a hero’s sendoff from his sailors as he left the aircraft carrier in Guam.
Video shared by sailors on social media shows a significant number of the crew cheering, applauding and chanting Crozier’s name as he exited the vessel.
The captain was relieved of command over the way he spread a memo wrote to Navy leadership desperately calling for swift action after a major coronavirus outbreak aboard the Roosevelt.
“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, in part.
Navy leadership said the captain showed “extremely poor judgement” by disseminating the memo — which was obtained first by the San Francisco Chronicle and then other media — too widely. Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said there was no evidence Crozier leaked the memo to journalists, but that the captain went outside the chain of command and sent the letter with an unsecured email address, copying dozens of people.
More than 100 sailors have tested positive for COVID-19 on the vessel, and about 3,000 service members are being evacuated to Guam, where they will be quarantined. A crew of around 1,000 sailors will have to remain on the ship.
The outbreak on the Roosevelt escalated rapidly. Last week, the Pentagon confirmed three sailors had tested positive aboard the carrier, but that figure increased to 25 two days later. Soon, the number rose to 70 and then to over 100 by Thursday.
About a quarter of the roughly 4,800 sailors on the Roosevelt had been tested for the virus as of Wednesday.