Videos show emotional send-off sailors gave aircraft carrier captain fired after warning of coronavirus outbreak

Capt. Brett Crozier, the commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, at an all-hands call on the ship’s flight deck in December. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Alexander Williams

Sailors aboard the US Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt on Friday said goodbye to Capt. Brett Crozier, the carrier’s commanding officer who was fired after raising alarms about a coronavirus outbreak on board, with cheers, whistles, and applause, videos first reported by Stars and Stripes showed.

Gathered in the hangar deck, the sailors chanted the captain’s name: “Captain Crozier! Captain Crozier!”

“That’s how you send out one of the greatest captains you ever had,” someone can be heard saying in one of the videos, adding that Crozier was “the GOAT” – the greatest of all time – and “the man for the people.”

“We as a crew really just stood there at attention waiting for [Crozier] to depart,” a Navy sailor aboard the Roosevelt told Insider. “It was a very emotional feeling, and as he was transiting we were saluting him off.

“Once he was on the brow of the ship, we all crowded the brow applauding and chanting his name, because he really meant a lot to us.

“We felt this way about our captain before we had this going on,” the sailor said. “His passion and energy was felt the day he checked on board. He stuck his neck out for us, so we had and have to do the same for him.”

Another video appeared to show the captain walking down the gangway onto the pier in Guam, where the carrier is stuck in port, before turning and waving goodbye to the crew.

Crozier was fired on Thursday by acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly after Crozier’s letter begging the Navy for help with a worsening coronavirus outbreak aboard the Roosevelt was leaked to news outlets.

The letter, which the San Francisco Chronicle published on Monday, said that “the spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating.”

Crozier strongly urged the Navy to take as much of the crew as possible ashore. “Sailors do not need to die,” he wrote.

Modly said on Thursday that he had “lost confidence” in Crozier’s “ability to lead that warship as it continues to fight through this virus.”

“This decision is not one of retribution,” Modly said. “It is about confidence. It is not an indictment of character, but rather of judgement. While I do take issue with the validity of some of the points in Captain Crozier’s letter, he was absolutely correct in raising them.”

Modly didn’t directly accuse Crozier of leaking the letter but said he allowed it to be distributed outside the chain of command, making it susceptible to a leak. Modly said the letter caused “a little bit of panic” not only on the ship but among sailors’ families.

Modly said the captain “demonstrated extremely poor judgment in the middle of a crisis.”

The commanding officer’s side of the story remains untold. Crozier did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on the Navy’s decision.

The Roosevelt’s executive officer, Capt. Dan Keeler, has assumed temporary command of the carrier until the arrival of Rear Adm. Select Carlos Sardiello, who previously commanded the ship.