USS Theodore Roosevelt
The Roosevelt is a U.S. aircraft carrier which got into the news in late March 2020 after its commander Capt. Brett E. Crozier informed superiors of a Coronavirus outbreak on the ship. Two weeks after a port call in Vietnam, the aircraft carrier has stopped in Guam.
- “We are not at war, and therefore cannot allow a single sailor to perish as a result of this pandemic unnecessarily,” Crozier wrote.
- Most of the 5,000 crew members ... will be quarantined in hotel rooms, government officials said Wednesday.
Source of contamination
- The first sailor tested positive 15 days after a port call in Danang, Vietnam. Aquilino defended the decision to go through with that port call saying that at the time, World Health Organization data showed a total of 16 cases of coronavirus in Vietnam. All the cases were in the Hanoi area (north of Danang) and no new cases had been reported within 20 days. Aircraft flew on and off the carrier in the days after the port call, so the virus could have been brought aboard from somewhere other than Vietnam.
Response to virus outbreak
Admiral Aquilino said: We’re taking this extremely seriously, and as this crisis came online there were three things that we have focused all our efforts around:
- Protect the force, that is, our Sailors and their families.
- Do everything possible not to spread the virus - that’s either to the homeland or to our allies and partners.
- I have a mission to maintain warfighting readiness to execute the Navy’s mission.
Evacuation of the ship
Dismissal of captain
Despite initially supportive comments from Navy leadership, Captain Crozier was replaced in early April by an admiral who had previously commanded the ship.
- Thomas Modly, the acting secretary of the navy, said that Captain Brett Crozier had been relieved of his command of the nuclear-powered carrier because he had copied in too many people on an internal memo on Monday, in which he urgently appealed for members of his crew who had fallen ill to be allowed to disembark for medical care in Guam.
- Briefing the press on his decision on Thursday, Modly ... accused Crozier of “not being careful” about who would receive his note.
- “It was copied to 20 or 30 other people. That’s just not acceptable. He did not take care and what that did is it created a little bit of a panic on the ship,” Modly said.
- Modly said Crozier’s memo “raised alarm bells unnecessarily” by giving the impression that Navy leadership was not listening to his concerns when in fact resources were on the way to the ship. He also claimed the memo did not reflect the conditions aboard the Theodore Roosevelt.
Reportedly, sailors gave him a hero's send-off:
- Videos emerged across social media sites Friday morning that appear to show hundreds of sailors cheering and applauding Capt. Crozier as he departed the ship following his firing by Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly.
- Coronavirus spread on aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt is accelerating, captain says Los Angeles Times
- Virus Grounds a U.S. Aircraft Carrier as Crew Quarantined in Guam - Wall Street Journal - 4-1-2020
- USS Theodore Roosevelt captain calls for immediate removal of sailors over coronavirus outbreak
- Statement from Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. John Aquilino - U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs - Posted March 31, 2020
- US navy fires commander who raised alarm about coronavirus on ship - The Guardian - accessed 4-3-2020
- Navy fires USS Theodore Roosevelt captain who warned ‘sailors do not need to die’ from COVID-19 in leaked letter - Task and Purpose - accessed 4-3-2020
- Captain fired for speaking out for COVID-stricken sailors given hero's send-off by crew - The Washington Times - 4-3-2020