DONALD Trump has blasted the much respected and loved commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt after he was fired for sounding the alarm about coronavirus aboard the vessel in a last-ditch attempt to save his crew.
In a blistering condemnation, the president called the venerated Capt. Crozier’s letter “terrible”, “all over the place” and “not appropriate”, saying he agreed “100 per cent” with the ousting.
Trump cited the captain’s actions during his press conference last night, including the letter he sent to the Navy begging them to allow his ship to make an emergency landing in Guam so sailors could receive treatment.
The Navy only allowed the urgent action after the letter was also leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Trump, who is under heavy fire for his poor response to the coronavirus crisis, said during his Saturday COVID-19 press conference: “He wrote a letter. A five-page letter from a captain. And the letter was all over the place. That’s not appropriate, I don’t think that’s appropriate.
“It looked terrible what he did. To write a letter. I mean this isn’t a class on literature. This is the captain of a massive ship … he shouldn’t be talking that way in a letter.”
The president also took repeated swings at Crozier for allowing the ship to stop in Vietnam as the outbreak was growing, but billed that decision as secondary to the letter.
Captain Brett Crozier will now be ‘reassigned’ according to his superiors, despite the Navy facing a huge backlash over the dismissal.
The news came just one day after a video emerged of hundreds of sailors cheering the Captain as he walked off the aircraft carrier after being relieved of duties.
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly told reporters on Thursday that he “lost confidence in [Crozier’s] ability to lead that warship” after he sent the letter, and relieved him of duty.
Crozier was to be reassigned while investigators consider whether he should face disciplinary action, said Modly.
More than 120,000 people have signed a petition calling on the U.S. Navy to reinstate Crozier.
“His actions possibly saved many lives,” said the Change.org petition said.
“Although he was fired, his plan to safely remove crew members was still implemented. He is a hero who should be rewarded.”
Crozier “was absolutely correct in raising” concerns about Covid-19 but “it was the way in which he did it” that “undermined” the Navy’s efforts and “created a little bit of panic on the ship,” Modly said.
Farwell Sir it's been a pleasure #WEARETRSTRONG #MYCO #TR
Posted by Michael Washington on Friday, April 3, 2020
But he said the letter was sent outside the chain of command while the Navy was already “fully responding.”
He added that Crozier copying as many people as he did on the letter demonstrated “extremely poor judgment,” and said: “He did not take care to ensure that it couldn’t be leaked.”
Crozier will be reassigned in the U.S. Navy role, but won’t be discharged, Modly said on Friday.
But despite this, Crozier was cheered for by hundreds as he left the USS Theodore Roosevelt on Thursday.
In videos posted online, one person can be heard shouting: “Now that’s how you send off one of the greatest captains you ever had.”
Hundreds of sailors chanted “Captain Crozier!” and a man calls him the “G.O.A.T.,” or the “greatest of all time,” and “a man of the people.”
Crozier, in his letter to Navy leaders, said: “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die,” he said. “If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our sailors.”
He said that removing all but 10 percent of the ship’s 5,000-person crew was a “necessary risk” in order to stop the spread of the virus.
The captain told bosses in Washington that action had to be taken immediately, and that as many crew should be taken off as possible to save lives — so they could be tested, isolated and treated if necessary.
“It will enable the carrier and air wing to get back underway as quickly as possible while ensuring the health and safety of our sailors,” Crozier wrote, adding that finding appropriate isolation for the crew “will require a political solution, but it is the right thing to do.”