Tell U​.​S. Navy to Reinstate Captain Who Sent Letter About COVID-19 On Aircraft Carrier

Tell U​.​S. Navy to Reinstate Captain Who Sent Letter About COVID-19 On Aircraft Carrier

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Eva Heward started this petition to Acting Secretary of U.S. Navy Thomas Modly and

The United States Navy has relieved the captain who sent a letter to the Navy's top leaders about an outbreak of COVID-19 aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

Captain Brett Crozier (CO), who commanded the Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier with a crew of nearly 5,000 was relieved of his command, but he will keep his rank and remain in the Navy, as announced in a briefing by Acting Secretary of State Thomas Modly on Thursday, April 2, 2020.

Speaking at a news conference Thursday evening, Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said Crozier was removed from his post because he sent the letter over "non-secure unclassified email" to a "broad array of people" rather than up the chain of command.

"I have no doubt in my mind that Captain Crozier did what he thought was in the best interest of the safety and well-being of his crew," Modly said. "Unfortunately, it did the opposite. It unnecessarily raised the alarm of the families of our sailors and Marines with no plans to address those concerns."

Capt. Brett Crozier of the USS Theodore Roosevelt.U.S. Navy
Modly insisted the that decision was his alone. He praised Crozier but said he had concluded that the captain "allowed the complexity of the challenge of the COVID breakout on the ship to overwhelm his ability to act professionally."

"The responsibility for this decision rests with me," Modly added. "I expect no congratulations for it. Captain Crozier is an incredible man."

Capt. Crozier sent a letter to top leaders of the Navy on Monday, March 30th, 2020, warning them that most of his ship's crew of 5,000 needed to be quarantined ashore in Guam -- because he was concerned that keeping them on the ship would continue the spread of the novel coronavirus. Unfortunately, the letter leaked to the media and generated a series of headlines.

The aircraft carrier is currently in Guam, where it docked on a timely port visit that allowed it to quarantine the growing number of infected sailors and enable the testing of the ship's crew.

Under Navy orders, the majority of the ship's crew had to remain aboard the ship while pier-side. Some had been moved to shore, though not in the individual housing advised under guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The ship's leaders began testing everyone on board and by Wednesday, there were 93 positive test results and more than 1,000 sailors had departed the ship into isolation on Guam. In total, 2,700 sailors are expected to disembark the ship this week, with a smaller crew remaining to maintain the ship.

In a copy of the memo, obtained by ABC News, Capt. Crozier argued that testing was not enough and that more needed to be done to keep the virus from spreading quickly to the rest of the ship's crew. The contents of the memo were first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Crozier continued, adding that "due to a warship's inherent limitations of space," it isn't possible to comply with the CDC's recommendations for social distancing."

"With the exceptions of a handful of senior officer staterooms, none of the berthing onboard a warship is appropriate for quarantine or isolation," Crozier wrote. "Thousands of ‘close contact’ Sailors require quarantine in accordance with guidance."

"The only effective method to preserve an individual’s health is total isolation for 14+ days in accordance with the NAVADMIN Individual hotel/barracks rooms with separate heads," he wrote.

Crozier added that "decisive action is required" because the "the spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating" and will continue because he can’t meet the CDC’s social distancing guidelines and separation for up to two weeks.

In order to meet the guidelines, Crozier urged that his sailors needed to be placed in individual quarantine facilities on Guam, each with its own bathroom. While he acknowledged that it "may seem like an extraordinary measure" to remove the majority of a deployed U.S. aircraft carrier's personnel, he said it was "necessary."

Crozier said that 10% of the ship's crew could remain aboard to run its nuclear reactor, maintain security and sanitize the ship.

"This is a necessary risk," Crozier said. "Keeping over 4,000 young men and women on board the [Roosevelt] is an unnecessary risk and breaks faith with those Sailors entrusted to our care."

I am starting this petition to the Navy and to President Donald Trump to request that they reinstate Capt. Crozier to his previous position aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt. One of the most important responsibilities of a naval ship’s captain involves protecting the lives of his crew. Capt. Crozier’s action of writing an urgent letter to Navy leaders informing them of a COVID-19 outbreak onboard probably saved the lives of those who are already infected as well as those who might be potentially infected. Expedited isolation and/or quarantine orders are the best way to “flatten the curve” and prevent further spread of this coronavirus, as already stated by many of our country’s officials and medical experts, and this is exactly what Capt. Crozier was doing.

Capt. Crozier should not be penalized by the Navy for this action. On the contrary, he should be praised and acknowledged for his effort in the face of pending crisis to assist his crew and prevent further outbreaks.

In the dire state of emergency that our country is currently experiencing, the technicalities of sending a "non-secure unclassified email" to a "broad array of people" rather than up the chain of command, as was stated by the acting Secretary of the Navy, should not be an issue for determining a commander's ability to act quickly and professionally, nor is it a valid reason for Acting Secretary Modly to relieve him of his duty.

As for the matter of  Capt. Crozier's action being in the best interest of the safety and well-being of his crew, he did what was necessary to immediately assess, address and act correctly in assisting them, which would surely be a comfort to any and all family members receiving this knowledge. He did in no way "unnecessarily raise the alarm of the families of our sailors and Marines with no plans to address those concerns," as the acting secretary stated.

This is a matter of saving lives in the midst of a "pandemic war" as outlined by our county's qualified medical professionals and Capt. Crozier did what was necessary  to save and protect his crew. This action does not deserve to be reacted to in this manner, especially by the acting secretary of the Navy.

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