The commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, who was fired for warning about a coronavirus outbreak on the San Diego-based aircraft carrier, now has the disease, according to media reports on Sunday.
The New York Times reported that Capt. Brett E. Crozier, who was relieved of duty Thursday after writing a letter that pleaded for help with the outbreak, has tested positive for COVID-19. The newspaper cited Naval Academy classmates and friends of Crozier’s and reported he had symptoms of the virus before his firing.
Crozier had asked for shore housing on Guam for uninfected members of the crew to halt the spread of the virus in the close quarters of the giant warship.
“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,” he wrote.
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said he lost confidence in Crozier’s ability to command the ship after the letter was leaked to the press. President Trump indicated his approval on Saturday, saying Crozier “shouldn’t be talking that way in a letter.”
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that an investigation into Crozier’s actions was ongoing.
“All the services at times relieve commanders without the benefit of an investigation up front because they’ve lost confidence in them,” Esper said. “It’s certainly not unique to the Navy.”
Crozier has reportedly been reassigned to the headquarters of the Naval Air Forces Pacific command in San Diego.