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Navy’s top civilian calls for deeper investigation into coronavirus outbreak on aircraft carrier

  • April 30, 2020

WASHINGTON — The Navy’s top civilian is calling for another investigation into events surrounding the coronavirus outbreak on an aircraft carrier, which led to the dismissal of its captain, who had pleaded for help, and the resignation of the former acting secretary of the Navy.

Upon reviewing the findings of the investigation into the USS Theodore Roosevelt and Capt. Brett Crozier, the newly tapped acting secretary of the Navy said he had “unanswered questions” and would, therefore, need “a deeper review.”

“This investigation will build on the good work of the initial inquiry to provide a more fulsome understanding of the sequence of events, actions, and decisions of the chain of command surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt,” acting Secretary of the Navy James McPherson wrote in a statement. 

The latest twist comes on the heels of the Navy’s recommendation last week that Crozier, who sounded the alarm about a growing coronavirus outbreak aboard the carrier, should be reinstated to his command. 

At the time, the decision to reinstate Crozier’s command of the Roosevelt sat with Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. The Pentagon boss, who was briefed on the recommendations following the Navy investigation, requested more time to review the findings. 

The secondary investigation is the latest development in a messy string of events that resulted in the resignation of acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly. 

Crozier was relieved of duty by Modly after the captain’s letter pleading for help to mitigate the spread of the virus aboard the aircraft carrier was leaked to the media. Modly then took a 35-hour trip, which cost taxpayers $243,000, to address the crew of the Roosevelt. 

In the address, delivered via the ship’s loudspeaker, Modly doubled down on his decision to relieve Crozier and called the former vessel’s captain “naive” and “stupid.” Hours later Modly issued an apology to the Navy.

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