Warship captains praised skipper of a COVID-stricken carrier just before the Navy fired him

Warship captains showed strong support for the commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, Capt. Brett Crozier, in emails sent just before the Navy fired him, Task & Purpose reported Friday.

A collection of 1,200 emails sent to and from Crozier’s email between March 25, 2020 and April 2, 2020 that were obtained by Task & Purpose and reported by Jeff Schogol reveal that Crozier had not only the support of his crew when he was relieved of his command, but also the support of fellow skippers.

The Navy publicly acknowledged that there was a COVID-19 outbreak on the USS Theodore Roosevelt on March 24, 2020, revealing that three sailors had tested positive.

The number of coronavirus cases soared within a matter of days as the carrier was forced into port in Guam. On March 30, medical professionals aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt warned that sailors would die if they were not evacuated immediately. That same day, Crozier sent an urgent plea up the chain of command calling for the evacuation of the majority of the crew. “Sailors do not need to die,” he wrote.

“If there is ever a time to ask for help it is now regardless of the impact on my career,” Crozier wrote.

The letter, which was also sent to some Navy personnel outside Crozier’s chain of command, leaked to The San Francisco Chronicle and published in full on March 31, and on April 2, acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly fired Crozier for “poor judgement.” Modly resigned a week later after a series of missteps, which included speaking ill of the captain to his crew.

“I read your letter yesterday in the SF Chronicle,” Capt. Matthew Paradise, commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, wrote in an email to Crozier on April 1.

“I thought it was awesome and a textbook example of speaking truth to power and taking care of your troops,” he said.

Another email obtained by Task & Purpose was from Capt. Sean Bailey, then the commanding officer of the carrier USS George H.W. Bush.

“I know you are feeling an immense amount of heat and outside pressure from everything that is going on right now, but wanted to let you know that the people who matter still support you,” the captain wrote in an email sent on April 1.

“I admire your commitment to communicating candidly to leadership and I’m confident that the ‘leak’ to the SF Chronicle was someone else’s misdirected motivation,” Bailey said. “I know that you are doing what is right to take care of your Sailors and your ship. Let me know if I can help.”

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