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Navy removes captain of coronavirus-plagued carrier who wrote letter pleading for help


Capt. Brett Crozier has been relieved from command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt

Aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

The U.S. Navy has removed Capt. Brett Crozier from his command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt after the media obtained a letter he wrote begging for help for sailors amid a spreading COVID-19 outbreak on the aircraft carrier.

What are the details?

Last week, the ship was forced to dock in Guam with its roughly 4,800 crew members on board after around 100 tested positive for coronavirus. On Monday, Capt. Crozier sent a letter to senior military officials, pleading for help and pushing for a coordinated effort to remove most of the crew from the ship, warning that "the spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating."

"This will require a political solution but it is the right thing to do," Crozier wrote. "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."

The letter was obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle and quickly made headlines in the U.S. and around the world.

On Thursday, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly announced Capt. Crozier had been removed from command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

"I don't know who leaked the letter to the media," Sec. Modly said during a briefing. "That would be something that would violate the principles of good order and discipline, if he were responsible for that. But I don't know that."

The Washington Post reported that "the Navy removed (Capt. Crozier) after becoming increasingly convinced that he was involved in leaking the letter to the media to force the service to address his concerns," according to Navy officials.

What else?

NBC News, also citing unnamed officials, reported that "the official reason for Crozier's relief of duty is a loss of trust and confidence."

While the secretary did not rule out disciplinary action, Capt. Crozier will keep his rank and remain in the Navy.

The Hill reported that after Crozier's letter went public, "Navy officials announced they would offload 2,700 sailors by Friday." More than 1,000 people had been removed from the ship as of Wednesday.

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