More than 100 of the ship’s 5,000 men have been confirmed by the virus and Captain Brett E. Crozier detailed the crisis that was developing on board his ship, which is moored in the peaceful island of Guam, in a letter dated March 30 at the Department of the Navy.
The letter, which was leaked to the media, says, “The spread of the disease continues and is accelerating. “
Captain Crozier also pointed out that the crew members live and work in confined spaces and share cabins.
“None of the dockings on board a warship can be quarantined or isolated,” he said.
The letter proposes “decisive action” and the landing of the majority of the crew at the Guam facilities before the ship is sanitized and can resume its duties.
“It will require a political solution, but it is the right thing to do,” said the captain.
“We are not at war. Sailors don’t have to die. If we don’t act now, we fail to take care of our most reliable asset – our sailors. “
Thomas Modly, the acting secretary of the Navy, announced on Thursday to the Pentagon that he was replacing the ship’s captain: “I did not take this decision lightly. “
While Mr. Modly said that Captain Crozier was sending the letter to his superiors “would result in absolutely no type of retaliation”, the fact that it was leaked “would be something that would violate good order and discipline”.
There was a quick response from a number of politicians and former US military personnel, including Mikie Sherrill – a Democratic member of Congress who was a Navy helicopter pilot – who tweeted, “The first time that I served on an aircraft carrier, it was aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt as a midshipman. I counted on our captain to take care of the ship and its crew. This is exactly what Captain Crozier did. “
In a later message, she said, “As a member of the Armed Forces Committee, it is now up to me to take care of our men and women in uniform and I will do it. I will make sure that Congress gets answers on why he was removed from office. “
Other Democrats on the committee condemned the move as “a reckless political decision that stinks of undue command influence.”
Elsewhere, the Pentagon’s decision has been described as “absolutely despicable” and Captain Crozier’s actions as heroic.