The US Navy Captain fired for his widely publicised plea for help for his coronavirus-affected crew has himself tested positive for the disease.
Captain Brett Crozier’s COVID-19 test result was reported Sunday by the New York Times, just hours after US Defense Secretary Mark Esper defended the captain’s firing.
The firing was widely condemned as an unfair punishment of a respected officer who was looking out for the welfare of his crew when he implored his superiors to let him quickly vacate the ship after it docked in Guam.
“We are not at war,” Crozier wrote. “Sailors do not need to die.”
Crozier was captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt when it was reported that three members of the crew had tested positive for COVID-19. The next day the number of affected sailors was increased to eight, and within a few days it was “dozens.”
The sailors reportedly became ill at sea, two weeks after a port call at Danang, Vietnam. The Roosevelt was ordered to Guam where she docked at the end of March and all 5,000 aboard were ordered to be tested for the virus.
Approximately 100 affected sailors were off-boarded, but the rest of the crew remained on board. On the 30th of March, Crozier emailed a 4-page internal letter to multiple people in the Navy leadership, pleading to have the majority of the crew evacuated and quarantined on shore, saying it was impossible to follow social distancing and quarantine procedures on board a crowded ship.
The letter was leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle, which published it. On the 1st of April the U.S. Navy ordered the aircraft carrier evacuated, with a skeleton crew of 400 to remain aboard the vessel to maintain the nuclear reactor, the fire-fighting equipment, and the ship’s galley.
The next day, Crozier was relieved of command by acting US Navy Secretary Thomas Modly. At the time of his removal, some 114 crew members had been reported to be positive for the coronavirus. As he disembarked, sailors were seen chanting “Cap-tain Cro-zier” in a video posted to Twitter captioned “Wrongfully relieved of command but did right by the sailors”.