US Navy to carry out deeper review of coronavirus-hit aircraft carrier

US Navy to carry out deeper review of coronavirus-hit aircraft carrier

USS Theodore Roosevelt begins new recovery phase
US Navy sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt board the ship as part of a crew swap of cleaning and watch standing teams at Naval Base Guam. (US Marine Corps/Staff Sgt. Jordan E. Gilbert/Handout via REUTERS

WASHINGTON: The US Navy on Wednesday (Apr 29) said that it would carry out a broader review into the spread of the coronavirus aboard an aircraft carrier, a move likely to delay a decision on the future of the ship's fired captain.

Captain Brett Crozier was relieved of command of the carrier Theodore Roosevelt after the leak of a letter he wrote calling on the Navy for stronger measures to protect the crew.

READ: 'Sailors do not need to die,' warns captain of coronavirus-hit US aircraft carrier

Last week, the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday recommended after a preliminary investigation that Crozier be reinstated.

Captain Brett Crozier
Captain Brett Crozier, commanding officer of the US Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, addresses the crew in San Diego, California, on Jan 17, 2020. US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Alexander Williams/Handout via REUTERS.

"I have unanswered questions that the preliminary inquiry has identified and that can only be answered by a deeper review," acting US Navy Secretary James McPherson said in a statement.

"Therefore, I am directing Admiral Gilday to conduct a follow-on command investigation," McPherson said.

He added that the report would look to provide a "more fulsome understanding of the sequence of events, actions, and decisions of the chain of command."

USS Theodore Roosevelt
A US Navy sailor assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt wears a mask while boarding the ship as part of a crew swap of cleaning and watch standing teams at Naval Base Guam. (US Marine Corps/Staff Sgt. Jordan E. Gilbert/Handout via REUTERS)

The move appears to be in line with the wishes of US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who had been in favour of receiving a completed written investigation before making any decisions

Esper had received a verbal briefing on the preliminary inquiry but felt that was insufficient to go forward on the Navy's recommendations.

Officials have told Reuters that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley was also in favour of a broader review.

Crozier is one of the 940 sailors from the Roosevelt’s 4,800-member crew who have tested positive for the coronavirus, effectively taking one of the Navy’s most powerful ships out of operation.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt
The USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) is seen while entering into the port in Da Nang, Vietnam, on Mar 5, 2020. REUTERS/Kham/File Photo

Crozier was fired by the Navy's top civilian, then-acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, against the recommendations of uniformed leaders, who suggested he wait for an investigation into the letter's leak.

Modly’s decision backfired badly, as members of the crew hailed their captain as a hero for risking his career out of concern for their health in an emotional sendoff captured on video that went viral on social media.

Embarrassed, Modly then compounded his problems by flying out to the carrier to ridicule Crozier over the leak and question his character in a speech to the Roosevelt’s crew, which also leaked to the media. Modly then resigned.

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Source: Reuters

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