The USS Roosevelt has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. The ship that was located in the South Pacific region had fallen victim to the virus. The ship acted as a perfect incubator for the virus to spread, endangering some 4,000 individuals on board. Controversy arose when a leaked letter from commander Brett Crozier, portraying the conditions on the boat, in relation to the Covid-19 virus, went viral. The letter stated:
“We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to take care of our most trusted asset.”
The commander believed to be raising concern about the virus outbreak on the ship. However, the Secretary of the Navy claimed that the commander was at fault for not following the proper ‘chain of command,’ and going through the right channels. The commander was relieved of his post just days later.
Sailors on board the ship remained loyal to the commander, they believed that he was wrongfully terminated from his post. This led to a large outpouring of support for the commander which was illustrated in a video; as he said his goodbyes applauds reverberated around the ship from fellow crew members. A petition in support of the commander has been ‘doing the rounds,’ online, and has received over 86,000 signatures. The petition read:
"Captain Crozier was unjustly relieved of duty," the petition reads. "His crime was asking for help regarding the safety of his crew when a Covid-19 outbreak. His actions possibly saved many lives. Although he was fired, his plan to safely remove crew members was still implemented. He is a hero who should be rewarded."
The Business Insider reported that to start with there were only three Covid-19 cases aboard the ship but two days later that number rose to 114. NBC claims that 1,000 aboard the ship have been put in isolation in Guam. With support rising there was an interesting turn of events, it was reported by the wider media that the commander will not be thrown out of the navy but will be re-assigned to a different position.
Although raising concern to the appropriate hierarchy would have been the right move to make it is hard to comprehend why the commander was relieved of his post. Raising concern about a rapidly spreading virus which has proven to be fatal should be hailed as heroic. Fortunately, politicians with high standing such as Joe Biden have allied support for Commander Crozier, blasting military leaders for their ‘poor judgement.’In addition, the petition rallying the support of Commander Crozier has gained almost 120,000 online signatures.
Shane, L. (2020) ‘Biden blasts firing of Theodore Roosevelt commander as Trump dismisses criticism’, Millitary Times, p. 1. Available at: https://www.militarytimes.com/news/pentagon-congress/2020/04/03/biden-blasts-firing-of-theodore-roosevelt-commander-as-trump-dismisses-criticism/.
Pickrell, R.(2020) ‘US Navy expects there will probably be “hundreds” of coronavirus cases aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt’, Business Insider, p. 1. Available at: https://www.businessinsider.com/probably-will-be-hundreds-of-coronavirus-cases-on-aircraft-carrier-2020-4.
Welner, D. (2020)‘ USS Roosevelt Commander Removed After Criticizing Handling Of Coronavirus Outbreak’, NPR, p. 1. Available at: https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/04/02/826317152/uss-roosevelt-commander-removed-after-criticizing-handling-of-coronavirus-outbre.Aitken,
P.(2020) ‘Ousted captain of USS Roosevelt faces further discipline, despite support of crew and petition for reinstatement’, Fox, p. 1. Available at: https://www.foxnews.com/us/capt-crozier-of-uss-roosevelt-facing-disciplinary-action-despite-support-of-crew-and-petition-for-reinstatement.
Cohen, Z. and Browne, R. 2020)‘Sailors cheer for aircraft carrier commander who was removed after issuing coronavirus warning’, CNN, p. 1. Available at: https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/03/politics/uss-theodore-roosevelt-aircraft-carrier-captain-send-off/index.html.