In Reversal, Navy Upholds Firing of Captain Who Raised Coronavirus Concerns

The Navy will uphold the firing of former USS Theodore Roosevelt Captain Brett Crozier, according a report by the Associated Press Friday.

The AP was informed of the decision by a U.S. official familiar with the situation.

The decision to uphold the firing was made by Adm. Mike Gilday, the chief of naval operations. It was a reversal from the Navy's recommendation in April, that Crozier be reinstated.

The AP also reported that the investigation into Crozier was conducted by Adm. Robert Burke and supported by Gilday.

Crozier was terminated from his position after he wrote a letter--which was leaked to the media--concerning the coronavirus spread on the ship during a deployment in the Pacific in March and the dangerous consequences that could result if the crew wasn't evacuated.

After the letter was leaked, Crozier was fired by then-acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, who later made a speech criticizing the captain and other crew members for speaking out about the health crisis on board.

"If he didn't think, in my opinion, that this information wasn't going to get out into the public, in this day and information age that we live in, then he was either...too naive or too stupid to be a commanding officer of this ship," Modly told the ship's crew members on April 5.

"The alternative is that he did it on purpose. And that's a serious violation of the [Uniform Code of Military Justice], which you are all familiar with," Modly said.

Following his speech on the ship, Modly released a statement in which he stepped back from his accusations against Crozier.

"Let me be clear, I do not think Captain Brett Crozier is naive nor stupid," Modly said. "I think and always believed him to be the opposite. We pick our carrier commanding officers with great care. Captain Crozier is smart and passionate."

Modly was criticized for his statements following Crozier's firing and eventually offered his resignation, which was accepted by Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

During the controversy surrounding Crozier's case, the Theodore Roosevelt had seen an increase in coronavirus cases. More than 1,000 crew members became infected, and one crew member has died from complications of the virus. According to the AP, the ship returned to duty after being sidelined in Guam for a period of time.

U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt
The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is docked at Naval Base Guam in Apra Harbor on April 10, 2020. Tony Azios/Getty