Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly fired the commander of the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, Captain Brett Crozier, for leaking a letter to the media and thus bypassing the chain of command. The letter concerned coronavirus cases on his ship. The ship is currently docked in Guam.
The flattop has a crew of almost 5,000. The Navy has said as many as 3,000 sailors will be taken off the ship and quarantined by Friday. More than 100 on the vessel have come down with the coronavirus. However, none have been hospitalized.
Thus the Navy had the situation well in hand. Also, on-board medical personnel could have handled the cases, as none were serious enough to require hospitalization. If not, onshore services in Guam might have helped. But the commander panicked and leaked his concerns to the press who, of course, immediately turned it into a political issue to attack the Trump administration.
Modly commented, “I did not come to this decision lightly. I have no doubt in my mind [Captain] Crozier did what he thought was in the best interest [of] the safety and well being of his crew. Unfortunately, he did the opposite… It unnecessarily raised alarms with the families of our sailors and Marines with no plan to address those concerns.
“It raised concerns about the operational security and operational capability of that ship that could have emboldened our adversaries to seek advantage and it undermined the chain of command.”
In the letter, Crozier said, “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.”
Begging the captain’s pardon, but we are at war. Just not a shooting war. And the last thing you do in war is advertise the fact that you are panicking.
As the NavSec said, it tempts people like the Chinese into rash action to take advantage of the situation. A commander should know better. Now, this one does.