The U.S. Navy expected to relieve the commander of the coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) who wrote a letter about the COVID-19 outbreak, NBC News reported citing officials.
According to the report, Captain Brett Crozier is being relieved not because he wrote the letter and sent it up through the chain of command but because the Navy believes he leaked it to the media.
San Fransisco Chronicle was first to report on the four-page letter by Capt. Brett Crozier in which he requested the Navy officials for resources to allow isolation of his entire crew and avoid possible deaths in a situation he described as quickly deteriorating.
“This will require a political solution but it is the right thing to do,” Crozier wrote in the letter to senior military officials, obtained exclusively by The Chronicle. “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.”
According to the latest reports, at least 100 of the ~5,000-strong crew is reportedly contracted with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
None of the infected sailors has reportedly shown serious symptoms, but the number of positive cases has jumped exponentially since the Navy reported infections in three crew members on March 24. This was the first time COVID-19 infections had been detected on a U.S. Navy ship at sea.
The carrier is currently docked at Naval Base Guam following the COVID-19 outbreak. The carrier was underway in the Pacific Ocean but was ordered to pull into Guam and remain pierside.
It was announced earlier that the Navy has started evacuating the crew off the vessel. A downsized crew will remain on board the vessel to maintain critical capabilities and to secure its safety of the sophisticated weapons and the nuclear power plant on the carrier.
USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) is America’s fourth Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (CSG) was forward-deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations “in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region”.