WASHINGTON, DC (NEXSTAR) — After a Navy ship had to dock due to a coronavirus outbreak on board, the Acting Naval Secretary removed the ship’s captain from his position.
But lawmakers on the House Armed Services Committee say that wasn’t a wise move.
Relieved of his duty, Navy Captain Brett Crozier got a hero’s farewell from hundreds of his Sailors Thursday.
“Captain Crozier had allowed the complexity of his challenge with the COVID breakout on the ship to overwhelm his ability to act professionally,” said Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly.
Secretary Modly made the call to reassign Crozier, removing him from the USS Theodore Roosevelt.
He says Crozier sent emails exaggerating the situation on the aircraft carrier and in a leaker letter to senior military officials said: “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die.”
“It unnecessarily raised alarms with the families of our sailors and marines,” Secretary Modly said.
Ultimately, Secretary Modly said Crozier didn’t follow the proper chain of command.
“That’s a phone call,” Secretary Modly explains. “It’s a walk down the hallway to your commanding officer, it’s not a blast out email to anybody who he knows.”
It’s not just his crew defending Captain Crozier. The House Armed Services Committee issued a statement that said relieving Crozier of his duties was an overreaction.
Committee Member John Garamendi, D-Calif., says the shakeup in leadership de-stabilizes American interests in the South China Sea.
“We were using the Theodore Roosevelt…to really keep that critical sea lane open for international traffic,” Rep. Garamendi said.
Garamendi says 2,700 crew members were removed from the ship and will likely be quarantined in Guam.
But says in a crisis: “That ship can redeploy. Yes, there would be covid cases onboard.”
But Garamendi says he’s hoping that won’t happen.