KEY POINTS

  • Capt. Brett Crozier sent  30 people a memo detailing the COVID outbreak aboard the carrier
  • Thomas Modly, Secretary of the Navy, confirmed Crozier was fired for acting unprofessionally
  • Thousands of crew members of the USS Theodore Roosevelt are now quarantined and getting tests in Guam

The U.S. Navy has relieved the commander of the aircraft carrier hit with a major coronavirus outbreak.

Captain Brett Crozier was fired by the carrier strike group commander Rear Admiral Stewart Baker for showing "extremely poor judgment" when he blasted out a memo to some 30 people over his concerns for the lives of his crew.

Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly said in a press conference that Crozier was relieved of command not for sending the memo but for his inability to act professionally.

"[Crozier allowed] the complexity of his challenge with the COVID breakout on the ship to overwhelm his ability to act professionally when acting professionally was what was needed the most at the time," Modly said during the press briefing on Thursday.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier is in dock in Guam after an outbreak of Covid-19 infected at least 114 crew members The USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier is in dock in Guam after an outbreak of Covid-19 infected at least 114 crew members Photo: Navy Office of Information / Nicholas V. HUYNH

The secretary also said that Crozier did not ensure that his memo wouldn’t be sent over unsecured channels. The captain, who said that he made a "decisive action" to release the memo, went outside the chain of command when the press got hold of the information.  San Francisco Chronicle published the contents of his memo.

When asked about Crozier's removal, President Donald Trump said that he does not agree with the perception the captain was punished for trying to save his men.

Reports say that at least 93 crew members of the USS Theodore Roosevelt have been infected with COVID-19. Crozier said in the memo that the cases would be accelerating since they are in a confined space.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt arrived at a naval port in Guam last week. More than a thousand crew members have been in quarantine, and they were told not to interact with the locals. About 2,700 more crew members are disembarking this week while a smaller crew will remain aboard to maintain the carrier in case it will be needed to head to sea, should an emergency arise.

Coronavirus testing for the ship's crew continues. So far, 1,273 have been tested with 593 negative results. The rest of the tests are still under process.