• Relieved Navy Captain Brett Crozier has tested positive for COVID-19
  • He was the former commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt
  • His relief came after sending a memo detailing a COVID-19 outbreak onboard

The former commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Navy Captain Brett Crozier, has tested positive for COVID-19. He has been showing coronavirus symptoms even before he was relieved of his command.

The New York Times reported the news, quoting two of Crozier’s Naval Academy classmates. Carrier strike group commander Rear Admiral Stewart Baker, upon the direction of acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly, had relieved Crozier of his command Thursday (April 2).

coronavirus infects relieved US Navy Captain Brett Crozier
coronavirus infects relieved US Navy Captain Brett Crozier U.S. Navy / Wikimedia Commons

Capt. Brett Crozier had sent a letter to the Navy brass informing them that more than 100 of his crew had tested COVID-19 positive. He reportedly urged top officials of the Navy to quarantine the crew and have the USS Theodore Roosevelt disinfected at a port in Guam.

He also informed the Navy brass that their attempts at social distancing on board the ship have failed to slow down the spread of the virus. Crozier reminded the top officials that the country was not at war at the moment, and sailors need not die. Part of the dismissed Captain’s letter read, “If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors.”

Capt. Crozier’s letter soon found its way to the San Francisco Chronicle. According to Secretary Modly, the former commanding officer was relieved because he lost confidence in the ability of the captain to command his ship.

Modly’s decision to strip Crozier of his command was supported by Defense Secretary Mark Esper. In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, Esper said, “I think acting Secretary Modly made a very tough decision, a decision that I support.” The defense secretary also said that the Modly's decision was based on his view that he had lost confidence and faith in the captain because of the actions he took.

The captain was loudly cheered by his sailors when he exited the ship after he was relieved of command, videos showed.

Created a firestorm

In an interview, Modly told reporters that Capt. Crozier was relieved for displaying “extremely poor judgment.” The Navy Acting Secretary said that the Crozier created a “firestorm” by widely disseminating the memo to some 20 to 30 people.

Modly, however, clarified that Capt. Crozier was not relieved because of any evidence that suggested he leaked the memo to the press. According to Modly, the action was taken because the officer allowed the COVID-19 breakout on the ship to overwhelm his ability to act professionally as required at the time.

The acting Navy Secretary said, “I have no information nor am I trying to suggest that he leaked the information. It was published in the San Francisco Chronicle. It all came as a big surprise to all of us that it was in the paper, and that's the first time I had seen it,” said Modly.

As of this writing, other than the results of the coronavirus test of the captain, no other report was made available on his medical condition, as well as any other official communication relative to his current health.