AP

Navy admiral advises reinstatement of fired carrier captain

Apr 24, 2020, 5:33 PM
In this image provided by the U.S. Navy, Capt. Brett Crozier, then-commanding officer of the aircra...
In this image provided by the U.S. Navy, Capt. Brett Crozier, then-commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), addresses the crew on Jan. 17, 2020, in San Diego, Calif. The Navy’s top admiral will soon decide the fate of the ship captain who was fired after pleading for his superiors to move faster to safeguard his coronavirus-infected crew on the USS Theodore Roosevelt. (Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Alexander Williams/U.S. Navy via AP)
(Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Alexander Williams/U.S. Navy via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The top Navy officer has recommended the reinstatement of the aircraft carrier captain fired for sending a fraught email to commanders pleading for faster action to protect his crew from a coronavirus outbreak, officials familiar with the investigation said Friday.

Adm. Mike Gilday recommended that Navy Capt. Brett Crozier be returned to his ship, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the results of an investigation that have not yet been made public.

If approved, his recommendation would end a drama that has rocked the Navy leadership, sent thousands of USS Theodore Roosevelt crew members ashore in Guam for quarantine and impacted the fleet across the Pacific, a region critical to America’s national security interests.

Gilday met with Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Tuesday and with Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Friday morning to lay out his recommendations. An official said Esper has asked for a delay in any public announcement while he considers the recommendation.

Earlier in the day, Esper’s chief spokesman Jonathan Hoffman had suggested that Esper was going into the matter with an open mind, and said “he is generally inclined to support Navy leadership in their decision.” In a written statement released after the news of Gilday’s recommendation broke, Hoffman said Esper got a “verbal update” from Gilday and wants to read the written report and then meet with the Navy to “discuss next steps.”

While other details of Gilday’s recommendations were not clear, they are expected to address the broader communications and leadership issues on the ship and within the fleet, including how the ship dealt the with growing outbreak, and how that information traveled through the chain of command. There have been ongoing questions about whether Navy leaders took too long to acknowledge the ship’s problems and if other commanders share blame for not being responsive to Crozier’s concerns.

One senior defense official said the investigation covered a complex timeline of communications that spanned multiple time zones and military commands. The official said Esper wants to make sure the report is thorough and stands up to scrutiny.

Rep. Adam Smith, a Washington state Democrat and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, urged Esper to restore Crozier to command.

“While Captain Crozier’s actions at the outset of the health crisis aboard the TR were drastic and imperfect, it is clear he only took such steps to protect his crew,” Smith said in a statement.

The extraordinary episode has captivated a public already overwhelmed by the pandemic. And it has played out as the military copes with the coronavirus by reducing training, scaling back recruiting and halting troop movements even as it deploys tens of thousands of National Guard and other troops to help civilian agencies deal with virus outbreaks across the country.

Crozier was abruptly removed earlier this month by acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, who resigned days later. His return to the ship would reunite him with crew members so upset about his firing that many crowded together on the deck and applauded and chanted his name as he strode off the ship.

As of Friday, 856 sailors on the USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for the virus and four are hospitalized. One sailor, who was from Arkansas, has died, and more than 4,200 of the ship’s nearly 5,000 crew members have been moved onto the island for quarantine.

As that outbreak continues, a second Navy ship at sea is now also reporting a growing number of infections. Navy officials said at least 18 crew members on the USS Kidd naval destroyer have tested positive, and one sailor has been evacuated to the U.S. The Kidd, with its crew of 350, is off the Pacific coast of Central America, where it has been operating as part of a U.S. counter-drug mission.

Clearing the aircraft carrier and its crew of the virus has proven to be difficult and complicated. Sailors who test negative after time in quarantine are suddenly showing symptoms a day or two later. The virus’ bewildering behavior, which is challenging the broader international medical community. is making it harder to determine when the carrier might be able to return either to duty or head home.

Gilday’s recommendations were first reported by The New York Times.

Crozier was fired April 2 by Modly after sending an email to several naval officers warning about the growing virus outbreak and asking for permission to isolate the bulk of his crew members on shore. It was an extraordinary move that would take the carrier out of duty in an effort to save lives.

“We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset, our sailors,” Crozier said in the memo.

Modly complained that Crozier “demonstrated extremely poor judgment” in the middle of a crisis, saying the captain copied too many people on the memo, which quickly went public. Modly also asserted that Crozier had improperly allowed sensitive information about the ship’s condition to become public.

A few days later, Modly flew out to the ship and delivered a profanity-laced condemnation of Crozier over the loudspeaker to the crew. Crozier, he said, may have been “too naive or too stupid” to be commanding officer of the ship.

Just hours after his comments were widely reported, Modly apologized. But the next day, in the face of widespread criticism, he resigned. Esper initially defended Modly’s firing of Crozier, saying he made a “very tough decision.” But other military leaders, including Gilday, internally opposed the firing, saying an investigation should be conducted first.

Modly’s trip to the carrier cost him Esper’s support. Esper first demanded Modly apologize and a day later accepted his resignation.

President Donald Trump has expressed seemingly contradictory views on the matter,. He initially blasted Crozier, calling his memo “terrible.” But a short time later he softened his take, saying he didn’t want to destroy someone who may just have “had a bad day.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

AP

Microsoft is cutting 10,000 workers, almost 5% of its workforce, in response to "macroeconomic cond...
MATT O'BRIEN, Associated Press

Job cuts in tech sector spread, Microsoft lays off 10,000

Microsoft said in a regulatory filing Wednesday that had just notified employees of the layoffs, some of which begin immediately.
9 days ago
exxon mobil sign pictured...
SETH BORENSTEIN and CATHY BUSSEWITZ Associated Press

Study: Exxon Mobil accurately predicted warming since 1970s

Exxon said its understanding of climate change evolved over the years and that critics are misunderstanding its earlier research.
15 days ago
FILE - Protesters, supporters of Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro, stand on the roof of the...
The Associated Press

Brazil and Jan. 6 in US: Parallel attacks, but not identical

RIO DE JANIERO, Brazil — Enraged protesters broke into government buildings that are the very symbol of their country’s democracy. Driven by conspiracy theories about their candidate’s loss in the last election, they smashed windows, sifted through the desks of lawmakers and trashed the highest offices in the land in a rampage that lasted hours […]
17 days ago
President Joe Biden pictured...
ZEKE MILLER AP White House Correspondent

DOJ reviewing potentially classified docs at Biden center

Special counsel to the president Richard Sauber said “a small number of documents with classified markings” were discovered at the offices of the Penn Biden Center.
18 days ago
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 06: A poster advertising the launch of Prince Harry's memoir "Spare" is s...
Jill Lawless Associated Press

Prince Harry says explosive book is a bid to ‘own my story’

Prince Harry defended his decision to publish a memoir that lays bare rifts inside Britain’s royal family.
18 days ago
utah capitol, a new bill heading to lawmakers will affect the utah sex offender registry...
HANNAH SCHOENBAUM Associated Press/Report for America

States target transgender health care in first bills of 2023

After a record flow of anti-transgender legislation last year, Republican state lawmakers this year are zeroing in on questions of bodily autonomy.
20 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
Navy admiral advises reinstatement of fired carrier captain