Sacked aircraft carrier captain is given a standing ovation by crew

The moment sacked aircraft carrier captain is given a rousing send-off by his crew as he walks off the warship for last time after writing controversial letter – and hundreds of sailors are moved into Guam hotels to the anger of locals’

  • Sailors from USS Theodore Roosevelt posted video showing a massive salute to ousted Capt. Brett Crozier 
  • Acting US Navy Secretary Thomas Modly announced Crozier was relieved of command on Thursday 
  • It comes days after Crozier penned letter to Navy leaders calling for immediate evacuation of aircraft carrier 
  • Modly said decision was driven by fact he shared letter with at least 20 others before it was leaked to press 
  • The secretary insisted that he was not accusing Crozier of leaking it himself
  • However, US officials told Reuters that the Navy did believe he was responsible 
  • The USS Roosevelt was docked in Guam last week after 25 crew members tested positive for COVID-19 
  • At least 93 sailors on the nuclear aircraft carrier have since tested positive
  • Navy is in the process of evacuating 2,700 sailors from the ship in addition to the 1,000 already evacuated
  • Locals in Guam have expressed anger over hosting infected sailors at their hotels
  • Between 180 and 500 sailors on Friday were moved to several hotels, where they will remain in quarantine 

The captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt was given a rousing salute by his now-former crew as he left the aircraft carrier for the last time after being fired over a letter he wrote demanding his sailors be quarantined after a coronavirus outbreak.  

Videos posted to social media by sailors shows a large crowd of servicemen and women on board the warship bidding a rowdy farewell to Captain Brett Crozier. 

‘That’s how you send out one of the greatest captains you ever had,’ a man is heard saying.

Another sailor, Taliah Peterkin, posted a video showing Crozier, wearing a baseball cap and carrying a backpack over his left shoulder, disembark from the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which is docked in Guam.

He is seen giving a salute and then turning to acknowledge the sailors who are chanting his name: ‘Captain Crozier! Captain Crozier!’

‘So long to our hero Captain Crozier’ the caption on Peterkin’s post read. 

Captain Crozier was fired on Thursday by acting US Navy Secretary Thomas Modly four days after he penned a scathing letter to Navy leaders calling for stronger action to address the COVID-19 outbreak he said was threatening his sailors lives.  

The videos were posted after the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier docked in the Pacific island of Guam, where hundreds of sailors suspected of being exposed to the coronavirus will be quarantined in several hotels.

Up to 500 sailors are expected to be housed in seven different hotels by the end of Friday while quarantined and plans are in place to send even more sailors that are being evacuated from the ship.  

Video posted to social media on Thursday shows hundreds of sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt bidding a raucous farewell and saluting their fired commander, Captain Brett Crozier

The sailors chanted ‘Captain, Crozier! Captain Crozier’ and clapped as he left the ship, which was docked in Guam on Thursday

Crozier is seen above disembarking the ship in Guam for the last time after he was fired over a letter he wrote asking the Navy high command to evacuate the ship due to an outbreak of the coronavirus on board

Between 180 and 500 sailors suspected of having been exposed to coronavirus were being housed in several hotels in Guam, including the Sheraton Laguna (pictured above on Friday). Plans are in place to have more sailors from the USS Roosevelt occupy hotel rooms in the coming days

As of Wednesday 93 sailors on the USS Roosevelt had tested positive for COVID-19 and around 1,300 had been screened for the disease, with about half of those results still pending, officials said. 

About 1,000 sailors, or 20 percent, have already been removed from the ship and another 2,700 were expected to be removed by the weekend as officials scrambled to secure enough hotel rooms to house them near US Naval Base Guam.  

Local islanders, meanwhile, are unhappy about plans to house soldiers possibly infected with coronavirus in hotels.

‘I am disturbed by the reckless double-standard of potentially placing potentially exposed military personnel in local hotels,’ Senator Sabina Flores Perez wrote in a letter to Guam’s governor, Lou Leon Guerrero. 

‘If sailors are placed in our hotels, we will be exposing lower-wage employees to greater risk, many of whom are older and have limited or no health benefits for themselves and their families.’

The senator continued: ‘Our medical facilities are strained, and we have yet to experience the peak of this outbreak, at which point the island will find itself in an even more compromising situation.’ 

Guam, which relies on tourism, has seen its hotels remain empty as flights to and from the island have been grounded due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Crozier was relieved of his command of the coronavirus-stricken nuclear aircraft carrier USS Roosevelt on Thursday, four days after his plea for help from Navy leaders went public

The first group of sailors will be housed at a beachfront Sheraton hotel which offers rooms for $200 a night, according to The Guam Daily Post.

To allay concerns of locals over the possible spread of coronavirus, the military has pledged that sailors would not be allowed out of their hotels during quarantine. 

‘I know my decision to allow the restricted housing of sailors who have tested negative for COVID-19 off base has left a few of you uneasy,’ the governor, Guerrero, said. 

‘This decision was not made in haste.’ 

The Roosevelt was on a scheduled deployment to the Pacific Ocean when it was forced to divert to Guam, a US-held territory in the Western Pacific republic of Micronesia, due to the on-board outbreak of COVID-19.

Captain Daniel Keeler, the ship’s executive officer, is now serving as acting commander.

Captain Carlos Sardiello, Crozier’s predecessor who stepped down in November, is making preparations to travel to Guam to once again assume full-time command of the ship, according to Stars and Stripes. 

Joe Biden, the former vice president and the leading contender for the Democratic nomination, criticized the Trump administration and the military for showing ‘poor judgment’ in relieving Crozier of his command.

Biden said the military was wrong to remove the captain of an aircraft carrier who sought stronger measures to control a coronavirus outbreak on board.

‘Donald Trump’s Acting Navy Secretary shot the messenger – a commanding officer who was faithful to both his national security mission and his duty to care for his sailors, and who rightly focused attention on a broader concern about how to maintain military readiness during this pandemic,’ Biden said in a statement to Reuters.

‘And the Navy sent a chilling message to the rest of the fleet about speaking truth to power. The poor judgment here belongs to the Trump Administration, not a courageous officer trying to protect his sailors.’

The US Navy on Thursday relieved Crozier, the captain of the coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier USS Roosevelt, days after his plea for help for his sailors went public. 

Acting US Navy Secretary Thomas Modly announced on Thursday afternoon that Crozier had been relieved of his command of the nuclear aircraft carrier, four days after he penned a scathing letter to Navy leaders calling for stronger action to address the COVID-19 outbreak he said was unnecessarily threatening his sailors lives. 

Modly said that the decision was driven by the fact that Crozier shared his letter with at least 20 people before it was leaked in the media on Tuesday.  

The secretary insisted that he was not accusing Crozier of leaking the letter himself.

But he did say that the people Crozier shared the letter with included ones ‘outside the chain of command’.

Modly said the decision to send the letter ‘raised alarm bells unnecessarily’ and accused Crozier of ‘extremely poor judgment’ and creating a ‘little bit of a panic’ on the ship.

He also accused Crozier of undermining the effectiveness of one of the United States’ most important strategic assets in the Pacific. 

The Roosevelt is nuclear-powered but it is not known if nuclear weapons are aboard. It is operating in the Pacific where China is the primary naval threat to the US. 

Acting US Navy Secretary Thomas Modly accused Crozier of undermining the effectiveness of one of the United States’ most important strategic assets in the Pacific. The USS Theodore Roosevelt is pictured docked in Guam on Friday

Plans are in place to remove a total of 2,700 sailors from the USS Roosevelt by the weekend as officials scramble to secure enough hotel rooms to house them near US Naval Base Guam. Around 1,000 sailors had been removed as of Friday

Modly said: ‘It [sending the letter] raised concerns about the operational capabilities of that ship… that could have emboldened our adversaries to seek advantage.

‘For these reasons I lost confidence in his ability to lead that warship.  

‘We should expect more from commanding officer of our aircraft carriers.  

‘Captain Crozier allowed the complexity of the COVID outbreak on ship to overwhelm his professionalism.

‘Relieving him of command was in the best interest of the US Navy and the nation.’ 

Modly said that Admiral Robert Burke, vice chief of naval operations, will conduct an investigation into the matter to determine why there was a breakdown in the chain of command. 

There was considerable backlash to the Navy’s decision to fire Crozier. An online petition titled ‘Reinstate Captain Crozier as Commanding Officer’ garnered more than 64,000 signatures on 

Several pro-Crozier memes have popped up on social media site Reddit critical of the Navy’s decision.  

Modly said hundreds of sailors would eventually test positive but insisted that none of them would need hospitalization. 

He also accused Crozier of creating panic by suggesting sailors would die. 

And he insisted that the Department of Defense was already taking the necessary action to protect the sailors of the USS Roosevelt before Crozier sent his letter.  

Thomas Moldy  said Crozier’s decision to send Crozier’s decision to send the letter ‘raised alarm bells unnecessarily’ and accused Crozier of ‘extremely poor judgement’.

The USS Roosevelt was forced to dock in Guam last week after 25 sailors on board tested positive for coronavirus. As of Wednesday, 93 crew members have tested positive and about 1,000 have been evacuated from the ship (seen in port Friday)

The USS Roosevelt was in the middle of a deployment to the Philippine and South China Seas when the Navy ordered it to cease sail on March 26 after at least 25 crew members tested positive.

In his four-page letter to Navy leaders, Crozier warned that the outbreak was ‘ongoing and accelerating’ and called for the immediate evacuation and isolation of 90 percent of the USS Roosevelt crew. 

‘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,’ the captain wrote.  

Crozier’s extraordinary plea was made public on Tuesday – putting the Pentagon on the defensive about whether it was doing enough to keep the USS Roosevelt’s crew safe as lawmakers and families of military members express concerns that other ships could be vulnerable to outbreaks. 

Modly had previously said Crozier would ‘absolutely not’ face retaliation for writing the letter – but indicated that he would be punished if officials found that he was the one who leaked it.  

‘The fact that he wrote the letter up to his chain of command to express his concerns would absolutely not result in any type of retaliation,’ Modly told reporters on Wednesday.

Asked repeatedly about how the letter came to light publicly, he said: ‘I don’t know who leaked the letter to the media. 

‘That would be something that would violate the principles of good order and discipline, if he [Crozier] were responsible for that. But I don’t know that.’ 


At a briefing on the island on Thursday, Rear Admiral John Menoni, the region’s US Navy commander, insisted that the vessel, despite the outbreak, ‘is not incapacitated’ and ‘could go to sea tomorrow if conditions required’.  

He and other officials, including Modly, publicly disagreed with Crozier’s assertion that all but 10 percent of the ship’s crew could be removed from the vessel if necessary – determining that 1,000 members would need to remain on board.

‘This ship has weapons on it. It has munitions on it… It requires a certain number of people on that ship to maintain the safety and security of the ship,’ Modly said. 

In his letter Crozier emphasized the ship’s ‘inherent limitations of space’ as he insisted that some 4,000 sailors be removed.  

‘None of the berthing aboard a warship is appropriate for quarantine or isolation,’ Crozier wrote. 

‘Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed US nuclear aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure. 

‘This is a necessary risk.’  

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