Navy Appoints New Captain for the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Closing Ranks Around Virus

Navy Capt. Carlos Sardiello, the incoming commanding officer of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, during the ship’s change-of-command ceremony on July 27, 2017 at North Island Naval Air Station.(Howard Lipin / Union-Tribune)

Rear Adm Select Carlos Sardielle was named to take command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) as Captain Brett Cozier was relieved after he published a letter about the spread of the Corona Virus onboard the ship.

Executive Officer, Capt. Dan Keeler, assumed interim command until Sardielle, the ship’s prior Commanding Officer, arrives.

Sardielle’s appointment comes as the Navy closes ranks around the controversial decision to remove Cozier once his critique became public.

Three thousand beds onshore have been secured for the crew to prevent the spread of the virus and placed in quarantine on Guam, where the ship is docked.

Most of the sailors have been exposed, but none were feeling sick enough to be hospitalized. The 180 sailors who had tested negative for the virus were also moved off the ship to quarantine on Guam.

The concern initially of what to do with the USS Roosevelt was if Guam would take the sick sailors, where they would be housed on the tiny island and if it was fair or safe for the residents there to endure the exposure.

Captain Cozier had informed his superiors of the crisis, but when there wasn’t a fast enough response, he sent the letter up the chain of command.

His mistake was utilizing “non-secure, unclassified” email and it was sent to an additional 2 dozen people before it leaked to the press, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly told reporters on Thursday. The letter was first obtained and published by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Captain Cozier was not blamed for leaking — the letter was not classified — but by copying so many people, he increased the risk that it would be made public.

He was criticized by Secretary Modly for not bringing his concern to his direct superior, the strike group commander who was “right down the passageway.”

The core critique was that he exposed the lack of readiness of one of the Navy’s most valuable assets. The secretary said it “raised alarm bells unnecessarily” and represented “extremely poor judgment” in a crisis.

The Navy recently stopped disclosing the numbers of afflicted on its ships, but Modly said Thursday that 114 sailors on the Roosevelt had tested positive for the virus.

As of this past Monday, the Department of Defense had directed all of their military commands to stop disclosing the amount of new corona virus cases among their personnel.

Modly described Crozier as an honorable man.

“I have no doubt in my mind that Capt. Crozier did what he thought was in the best interests of the safety and well-being of his crew,” he said.

His replacement, Rear Adm Select Sardiello, is a Naval legend.

Five days into Operation Iraqi Freedom, in 2003, he scored the first and only missile strike by an S-3B Viking anti-submarine jet on an Iraqi naval target.

He skippered the “Grey Knights” of Patrol Squadron Four Six and the command ship Mount Whitney before taking the helm of the Roosevelt in 2017.

170430-N-EG687-006 PACIFIC OCEAN (April 30, 2017) The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) transits the Pacific Ocean while conducting a tailored ship’s training availability off the coast of Southern California. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Austin Clayton/Released)

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