Crowds of sailors cheering and applauding aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt said goodbye to their captain, who was relieved of his duties after expressing concerns about a coronavirus outbreak on his ship in a letter that was released to the media, videos to show.
Acting Secretary of the Navy, Thomas Modly, said the ship’s captain, Captain Brett Crozier, who was ousted on Thursday, “had shown extremely poor judgment” in the midst of a crisis. The Roosevelt is an aircraft carrier with a crew of nearly 5,000 people,
A video posted on Twitter shows sailors chanting “Cap-tain Cro-zier” during his landing. The user who posted the Twitter video captioned it, in part: “Wrongly relieved of command but did well by the sailors. “
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In a statement to NBC News, a group of sailors aboard the ship said, “Modly has broken the confidence of the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt. “
“There was nothing alarming or sensationalist in Captain Crozier’s letter,” said the statement. “It was just a recitation of the dark facts facing this warship. Captain Crozier has all the faith and confidence of this crew, who would return with him at any time. “
The ship, which operated in the Pacific, arrived at the port of Guam last week, several days after several crew members tested positive for the virus. On Wednesday, 93 test results were positive and more than 1,000 people were removed from the carrier and placed in solitary confinement in Guam.
Modly said Crozier was removed from office because he sent his letter by “unsecured unsecured email” to a “wide range of people” rather than at the top of the chain of command.
“I have no doubt that Captain Crozier did what he thought was in the best interests of the safety and well-being of his crew,” said Modly. “Unfortunately, it did the opposite. This unnecessarily raised the alarm for the families of our sailors and Marines who do not intend to respond to these concerns. “
The decision, which Modly said was hers, was met with a backlash, notably from the Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, who said that the acting secretary of the Navy “Had shot the messenger – a commander loyal to both his national security mission. and his duty to take care of his sailors, and who has rightly focused his attention on a broader concern about how to maintain military readiness during this pandemic. ”
On Friday, a group of 17 Senate Democrats, led by Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, asked the office of the Defense Ministry’s Inspector General to investigate the ship’s hatching and foreclosure from Crozier.
“We are particularly alarmed by the brutal overthrow of the Navy over the leadership of CAPT Crozier during this crisis,” the group wrote in a letter to Inspector General Glenn A. Fine. “One day before CAPT Crozier was relieved of his duties, the Acting Secretary of the Navy said, with reference to the captain’s request for assistance on March 30, that” the fact that he wrote the letter to his chain of command to voice his concerns would be absolutely unsuccessful “in any kind of retaliation. “”
Modly told Reuters on Friday that an investigation would determine whether Crozier should be subject to disciplinary action.
“He will be reassigned, he is not expelled from the Navy,” said Modly.