National Security & Defense

Navy Believes Fired Aircraft Carrier Captain Should Be Reinstated

Captain Brett Crozier addresses the crew for the first time as commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in San Diego, Calif., November 1, 2019. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sean Lynch/Handout via Reuters)

The top officer in the Navy believes the former captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier should be reinstated, after he was removed from his command earlier this month when an email he wrote to superiors warning of a coronavirus outbreak on the ship leaked to the public.

Admiral Mike Gilday told General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper this week that Navy Captain Brett Crozier should be returned to his ship, according to officials who briefed The Associated Press. Another official said Esper is considering the recommendation, which was delivered Friday morning.

Crozier sent his plea for help to numerous Navy personnel on March 29 as an unclassified email, which was published on the morning of March 30 by the San Francisco Chronicle, warning that “decisive action is required.” He was subsequently removed from his post, with former Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly then lambasting him in a speech to his former crew, calling the decision to send the letter a “betrayal of trust.”

While Modly initially said he stood by “every word” of his speech, he subsequently apologized and then resigned. President Trump initially agreed “100 percent” with the firing of Crozier, but later expressed doubts about it.

“I’m going to get involved and see exactly what’s going on there, because I don’t want to destroy somebody for having a bad day . . . you have two good people and they’re arguing, and believe it or not I’m good at settling arguments,” the president said at the daily White House coronavirus briefing on April 6.

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