Navy Capt. Brett E. Crozier will not be reinstated as the Commanding Officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Navy Adm. Michael M. Gilday, the Chief of Naval Operations said.
The decision was announced at a Pentagon news conference Friday after a review of the report of events that took place on the Roosevelt at the outbreak of the Corona Virus. Both Gilday and Navy Secretary Kenneth J. Braithwaite characterized the report as “thorough and fair.”
Gilday said that his initial recommendation to reinstate Crozier was proven wrong.
“I previously believed that Captain Crozier should be reinstated following his relief in April, after conducting an initial investigation. The much broader, deeper investigation that we conducted in the weeks following that had a much deeper scope. It is my belief that both Admiral Baker and Captain Crozier fell well short of what we expect of those in command. Had I known then what I know today, I would have not made that recommendation to reinstate Captain Crozier. Moreover, if Captain Crozier were still in command today, I would be relieving him,” said Gilday.
Crozier will not return to his role as the commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt. He will not be eligible for future command opportunities, effectively ending any chance at career advancement. He will continue to be assigned to other desk work.
Navy Rear Adm. Stuart Baker, Commander of Strike Group 9, was Captain Crozier’s immediate supervisor onboard the Roosevelt. His promotion to a two-star rank is pending further review, while Captain Crozier’s career is effectively over.
Crozier was relieved of command on April 2 after the letter he sent outlining his concerns about the spread of the Corona Virus was leaked to the press.
Capt. Crozier returned to San Diego on May 4, assigned to the Naval Air Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, known as AIRPAC, serving as the special assistant to the Naval Air Forces chief of staff.
Gilday said, “Captain Crozier’s primary responsibility was the safety and the well-being of the crew, so that the ship could remain as operationally ready as possible. In reviewing both Admiral Baker and Captain Crozier’s actions, they did not do enough, soon enough, to fulfill their primary obligation.”
Gilday said that Crozier and Baker didn’t move sailors off the aircraft quickly enough to a safe environment and that they used questionable judgment when releasing the sailors from quarantine on the ship. This put the crew at higher risk and may have increased the spread of the Corona Virus on the vessel.
“As Captain Crozier stated in his email, he should have been more decisive when the ship pulled into Guam. He also said that he was ultimately responsible for his ship and his crew. And I agree. In the end, the email and the letters sent by Captain Crozier were unnecessary. Actions were already underway to acquire [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]-compliant off-base hotel rooms for the crew before he sent that email,” said Gilday.
One sailor assigned to the Roosevelt died due to the Corona Virus on April 13. Aviation Ordnanceman Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker Jr., 41, of Fort Smith, Ark. Thacker was diagnosed on March 30 and entered the ICU at US Naval Hospital Guam on April 9.