Navy Capt. Brett E. Crozier, commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, based in San Diego.
Navy Capt. Brett E. Crozier, commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, based in San Diego. Photo via public.navy.mil

The New York Times reported Friday that Navy leaders have recommended reinstating the captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, who was fired after warning of a coronavirus outbreak on the aircraft carrier.

The newspaper said Adm. Michael Gilday, the chief of naval operations, and acting Navy Secretary James McPherson, made the recommendation to Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

Esper then asked for time to consider whether he will sign off on the reinstatement, according to the report, though he had earlier indicated he would be “generally inclined” to support such a request.

A Defense Department spokesman confirmed that Esper had received a “verbal update” on the Navy’s inquiry into the matter, but did not reveal the contents of the update.

“After the Secretary receives a written copy of the completed inquiry, he intends to thoroughly review the report and will meet again with Navy leadership to discuss next steps,” the spokesman said. “He remains focused on and committed to restoring the full health of the crew and getting the ship at sea again soon.”

Capt. Brett Crozier was relieved of command by former Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly after his letter to top brass pleading for help was leaked to a San Francisco newspaper.

Crozier was cheered as he left the San Diego-based carrier, which is docked at Guam while over 800 crew members have tested positive for the disease and one death has been recorded. He was reassigned to a shore position in San Diego, but has the virus himself, and is in quarantine on the island.

Modly later resigned after telling the crew over the ship’s public address system that Crozer was “stupid” in sending the letter.

Updated at 3:50 p.m., Friday, April 24, 2020

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.