Former Commander of USS Theodore Roosevelt 'Troubled' by Removal of Captain over Coronavirus Protests

By Crilly, Rob | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, April 3, 2020 | Go to article overview

Former Commander of USS Theodore Roosevelt 'Troubled' by Removal of Captain over Coronavirus Protests


Crilly, Rob, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


A former commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt has joined a growing chorus of anger at the removal of Capt. Brett Crozier for raising the alarm over coronavirus cases on his aircraft carrier and warned that more ships will face similar problems unless the Navy takes action.

Crozier was relieved of his command after an emailed plea for help was leaked to the media. In it, he asked that 4,000 sailors be removed from the ship and isolated in order to stem an outbreak that was spiraling out of control.

On Friday, retired Adm. Charles “Steve” Abbot, who commanded the nuclear aircraft carrier during the Gulf War, added his voice to growing protests at the way Crozier had been treated for putting his men first.

“As a former Commanding Officer of USS Theodore Roosevelt, I was troubled to see that Captain Crozier has been relieved of command,” he wrote in a letter to the Washington Examiner.

“The problem on TR will occur on other ships. Hopefully in smaller numbers, but the Navy leadership needs to have its plan and fleet wide guidance in place for dealing with the problem promptly.”

Crozier’s letter raised concerns about whether the Pentagon was doing enough to keep sailors safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

The warship’s crew made its feelings clear in videos capturing the moment when Crozier disembarked for the final time. They chanted “Captain Crozier! Captain Crozier!” as he descended the aircraft carrier’s gangplank in Guam.

More than 100 had tested positive for the novel coronavirus by Thursday.

Abbot said the problem was one element of a global crisis and that Americans would die because of a failure by President Trump to heed early warning signs.

“The deaths of tens of thousands of Americans who did not need to die will be tied to his abject failure to provide the leadership we need,” he wrote.

Abbot went on to command the 6th Fleet and completed his naval career as deputy commander in chief of U.S. European Command. He later became deputy homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush in the aftermath of 9/11.

He is among a string of former senior officers who have defended Crozier, including former Supreme NATO Commander Adm. James Stavridis.

A day earlier, acting U.S. Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said Crozier had been relieved of command for failing to safeguard the contents of the letter.

“I have no information, nor am I trying to suggest that he leaked the information,” he said.

Below is the full text of the letter:

As a former Commanding Officer of USS Theodore Roosevelt, I was troubled to see that Captain Crozier has been relieved of command. …

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