Capt. Brett E. Crozier, whom the Defense Department removed from command of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt after he raised alarms about a novel coronavirus outbreak onboard, has tested positive for the virus himself, according to The New York Times, citing two Naval Academy classmates and friends of Crozier’s.
Crozier, who was removed from command Thursday, reportedly had begun manifesting symptoms of the virus before his firing. His removal followed a leak to the press of a letter he sent his Navy superior detailing high-level failures to provide the carrier with the necessary resources to handle the outbreak.
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said he had lost confidence in Crozier’s ability to command the ship after Crozier emailed the letter through an unclassified system to between 20 and 30 people, saying it caused unnecessary dismay and undermined the chain of command. President TrumpDonald TrumpMedia giants side with Bannon on request to release Jan. 6 documents Cheney warns of consequences for Trump in dealings with Jan. 6 committee Jan. 6 panel recommends contempt charges for Trump DOJ official MORE endorsed the firing in a Saturday press briefing, saying Crozier “shouldn’t be talking that way in a letter.”
Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to update Americans on omicron; Congress back Former defense secretary Esper sues Pentagon in memoir dispute Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Major Russia weapons test stokes tensions MORE said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that an investigation into Crozier’s actions was ongoing.
“All the services at times relieve commanders without the benefit of an investigation upfront because they’ve lost confidence in them,” he said. “It’s certainly not unique to the Navy.”
Reports of Crozier’s diagnosis will likely fuel what was already vocal criticism of the Navy’s handling of both the aircraft carrier outbreak and his firing, the Times reported. Footage of sailors aboard the Roosevelt applauding Crozier as he left the carrier went viral after his removal.
A Navy spokesperson told the Times that Crozier has been reassigned to the headquarters of the Naval Air Forces Pacific command in San Diego, where the Roosevelt is homeported, but said he must first complete a quarantine period. Two of Crozier’s classmates said he is being quarantined in Naval Base Guam’s distinguished visitor quarters, although when he was first tested for the virus is unclear.
The Hill has reached out to the Navy for comment.