Navy recommends fired carrier captain be reinstated
Crozier lost his command this month after a letter requesting help from Navy leaders leaked to the media.
Top Navy officials are recommending that Capt. Brett Crozier, the former commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, be reinstated to his position, according to a senior defense official with knowledge of the decision.
The unprecedented decision, which still must be approved by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, follows the resignation of acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, who criticized Crozier for how he handled a coronavirus outbreak on his ship.
Esper was briefed on the recommendations early Friday, but the Pentagon is still reviewing the decision, the official said.
The move would be a sharp rebuke of Modly's decision to fire Crozier, after a memo Crozier wrote to several Navy leaders asking for help for his roughly 5,000 sailors was leaked to the media. Modly abruptly fired Crozier before the service could complete an investigation into the incident, saying the captain exercised "poor judgment" and that he believed President Donald Trump would want him relieved.
Crozier's reinstatement will likely be viewed favorably by Navy veterans and lawmakers, many of whom criticized Modly's decision to relieve the captain in the middle of a crisis for what was viewed as a minor infraction. The move had already been called into question: Modly told reporters that Crozier had CC'd "20 to 30" people on the email, but the Washington Post reported that the captain only copied a handful of other Navy officials.
The ship's crew has also been eager to see Crozier reinstated. Videos posted of his last moments on the ship showed sailors cheering, chanting his name and swarming to say goodbye.
Modly himself stepped down in early April after an uproar over a profanity-laced address he gave to the Roosevelt's crew, in which he called Crozier "naive" and "stupid" for sending the message.
Although Trump suggested that he might intervene in the investigation, the White House did not get involved, according to the defense official.
The Roosevelt's crew has been stuck in Guam since March 27 as it deals with the outbreak. The Navy has now tested 100 percent of the crew, with 840 positive results. Four sailors are in U.S. Naval Hospital Guam being treated for Covid-19 symptoms. One died this month.
A second ship at sea, the destroyer USS Kidd, has now been sidelined by the virus. The ship is preparing to pull into port after 18 sailors tested positive for Covid-19, the Pentagon confirmed Friday.