COVID-19: Carrier CO Who Seeked To Disembark Sailors To Avoid Casualities Replaced!



  • CO of USS Theodore Roosevelt has appealed for soldiers to disembark to prevent spread.
  • About 100 known cases of COVID-19 on board-up were reported last week.
  • The warship’s layout necessarily puts large numbers of sailors within a confined enclosure.
  • Soldiers share open berths, workspaces, and mess facilities within narrow passageways.
  • The CO was replaced for bypassing the chain of command.
  • He failed to ensure that the communication remained secure and undermining operational security.

According to an article published in the Maritime-Executive, the commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt has written to Navy headquarters to appeal for decisive action to prevent tragic outcomes from a large-scale coronavirus outbreak on board.

CO requests for disembarking

It was reported that there are about 100 known cases of COVID-19 on board-up from three one week ago.

Citing CDC research on the heightened risk of coronavirus transmission in the enclosed environment aboard cruise ships, Captain B.E. Crozier warned that effective isolation of known cases and quarantine of suspected contacts aboard USS Roosevelt is impossible. The current strategy will only slow the spread, he said. The current plan in execution on TR will not achieve virus eradication on any timeline.

Soldiers at increased risk due to confined spaces

He noted that the warship’s layout necessarily puts large numbers of sailors within a confined enclosure, with shared open berthing, shared heads, shared workspaces, shared mess facilities, and unavoidable close contact during watch duties and movement within passageways. With the exceptions of a handful of senior officer staterooms, none of the berthing onboard a warship is appropriate for quarantine or isolation, he wrote. Thousands of ‘close contact’ sailors require quarantine in accordance with [Navy] guidance.

Need for improved facilities

Though the Roosevelt is disembarking the ill and suspected close contacts, the current shoreside accommodations in Guam may offer little by way of improvement. Two close contact sailors in off-ship shared accommodations in an open gymnasium have tested positive, he said – a sign that group (rather than individual) quarantine may not be adequate to the task. CDC and Navy guidance call for individual quarantine.

Based on data since TR’s first case, approximately 21 percent of the sailors that tested negative and are currently moving into group restricted movement ashore are currently infected, will develop symptoms over the several days, and will proceed to infect the remainder of their shore-based restricted group, Captain Crozier wrote.

Course of action

Captain Crozier laid out two possible courses of action:

1) maximize warfighting readiness immediately and prepare to meet the fight while ill, accepting foreseeable casualties from the virus; and

2) pursue a peacetime strategy of strict adherence to CDC guidelines, preventing excess mortality by reducing sailor exposure to the virus and disinfecting the ship. This second option would require off-ship lodging for 4,000 sailors for two weeks of quarantine. 10 percent of the crew would remain aboard to run the reactor plant and conduct sanitizing efforts.

Safety is of utmost priority

Keeping over 4,000 young men and women on board the TR is an unnecessary risk and breaks faith with those sailors entrusted to our care, said Captain Crozier. We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die.

Captain Crozier is a naval aviator by background and a former F/A-18 pilot. He previously served as the commanding officer of the 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge and the XO of the carrier USS Ronald Reagan.

Captain relieved from the post

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly has removed the commanding officer of the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt from command, citing a written appeal for assistance with an outbreak of COVID-19 on board.

The move came shortly after USS Roosevelt CO Captain Brett E. Crozier wrote and distributed a letter calling for 4,000 members of the carrier’s crew to be disembarked in Guam, thereby reducing the potential that they might be exposed to the virus. About 100 cases have been confirmed on board, and Crozier expressed concern that it would not be possible to contain the disease in the cramped environment of a modern warship.

Accused of by-passing command

According to Acting Secretary Modly, the letter was sent via unsecured email to multiple recipients, and it was subsequently leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle. Modly accused Captain Crozier of bypassing the chain of command, failing to ensure that the communication remained secure and undermining operational security.

In addition, Modly claimed that the Navy was already acting on the captain’s requests prior to the memo. I have no doubt in my mind that Captain Crozier did what he thought was in the best interests of the safety and well-being of his crew. Unfortunately, it did the opposite, said Modly in a statement.

He added, It unnecessarily raised alarms with the families of our Sailors and Marines with no plan to address those concerns. It raised concerns about the operational capabilities and operational security of the ship that could have emboldened our adversaries to seek advantage, and it undermined the chain of command who had been moving and adjusting as rapidly as possible to get him the help he needed.

Investigation launched

Capt. Crozier will be replaced by the USS Roosevelt’s former commander, Rear Admiral Select Carlos Sardiello. In addition, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Robert Burke will launch an investigation into whether there might be a circumstances and climate problem within the Pacific Fleet as a whole. We must ensure we can count on the right judgment, professionalism, composure, and leadership from our commanding officers everywhere on our Navy and Marine Corps team, but especially in the Western Pacific, said Modly.

Critics of Modly’s decision noted that Captain Crozier was relieved within two days of sending a letter seeking support for his crew’s wellbeing; by comparison, the COs of the USS Fitzgerald and the USS John S. McCain kept their commands for weeks after the two collisions that crippled their ships and killed multiple members of their crews.

Impact on morale and retention rate

For the men and women on the Roosevelt and across the Navy, the message is this: If the commander is looking out for you and doesn’t go about it the right way he’s going to get punished. It’s dangerous, it’s going to impact morale and retention rates, said Marine Corps veteran Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), speaking to the New York Times.

Capt. Crozier’s dismissal did not appear to reduce his popularity among the carrier’s crew. Upon his departure, a crowd of USS Roosevelt sailors gave him a rousing cheer as he walked down the gangway, according to multiple video posts on private social media accounts.

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Source: Maritime-Executive


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