The Navy hasn’t ruled out reinstating the aircraft-carrier captain fired over his handling of a coronavirus outbreak

US Navy Capt. Brett Crozier. US Navy/MCS Seaman Alexander Williams
  • The US Navy has not ruled out reinstating Capt. Brett Crozier, the former commanding officer of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.
  • “I am taking no options off the table,” Adm. Michael Gilday, the Navy’s top officer, told The Associated Press.
  • Gilday said he was particularly interested in Crozier’s motivations for emailing a letter that was leaked to the media.
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The US Navy has not ruled out reinstating Capt. Brett Crozier, the former commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt who was fired for his handling of a coronavirus outbreak, according to the service’s top officer.

Adm. Michael Gilday, the chief of naval operations, told The Associated Press he hadn’t decided against reinstating Crozier. “I am taking no options off the table,” Gilday said.

Gilday said he hadn’t yet spoken with Crozier, who is under quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus, but that he was particularly interested in the captain’s motivations for emailing the letter.

Crozier was relieved of command on April 2, days after he emailed a four-page letter to at least 20 people warning about a coronavirus outbreak aboard his ship.

The letter was eventually leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle, which published its contents on March 31. It was not immediately clear how the letter was leaked, but Navy leaders said they recently completed an investigation into the matter.

USS Theodore Roosevelt
USS Theodore Roosevelt. Jackie Hart/US Navy

Thomas Modly, the acting Navy secretary at the time, scrutinised Crozier’s decision to email the letter to the group and accused him of circumventing the service’s chain of command.

“I have no doubt in my mind that Capt. Crozier did what he thought was in the best interest and well-being of his crew,” Modly said last week. “Unfortunately, it did the opposite.”

Modly later travelled to Guam, where the USS Theodore Roosevelt is in port, to address the ship’s roughly 4,800 crew members. Modly’s 15-minute profanity-laced speech about Crozier’s actions was later leaked and widely criticised by former Navy leaders, the ship’s crew, and lawmakers.

Modly apologised for his remarks and resigned on Tuesday.

Reinstating Crozier would likely be an unprecedented move by the Navy. Previous Navy commanding officers have had their firings expunged from their service records, but reinstatement to command a ship has rarely, if ever, taken place. An online petition seeking to “reward” the captain for “asking for help regarding the safety of his crew” had more than 315,000 signatures as of Thursday.

More than 2,300 of the carrier’s crew members have been evacuated, and many of them are under quarantine in hotels in Guam. About 416 crew members had tested positive for the coronavirus as of Thursday.