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Navy Fires Roosevelt's Captain After All

New investigation blames Brett Crozier and his boss in coronavirus crisis
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 19, 2020 3:35 PM CDT

(Newser) – In a stunning reversal, the Navy has upheld the firing of the aircraft carrier captain who urged faster action to protect his crew from a coronavirus outbreak, according to a US official familiar with the report. The official said the Navy also extended the blame for the ship's crisis, delaying the promotion of the one-star admiral who was onboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt—concluding that both men made serious errors in judgment, the AP reports. The spread of the coronavirus aboard the carrier while in the Pacific in March exploded into one of the biggest military leadership crises of recent years. More than 1,000 members of the crew became infected, and one sailor died. The ship was sidelined for weeks at Guam but recently returned to duty. The Roosevelt's outbreak spurred the development of widespread cleaning and health precautions across the military.

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The decision by Adm. Mike Gilday to hold both Capt. Brett Crozier and his boss, Rear Adm. Stuart Baker, accountable confirms the concerns of Pentagon officials who demanded a deeper investigation last month, after the initial probe recommended Crozier's reinstatement. The investigation by Adm. Robert Burke defends the turnaround by saying that the more detailed probe uncovered poor decisions that failed to stem the outbreak or communicate the escalating crisis to senior commanders. It also concludes that the ship's slow response to the virus was not just Crozier's fault, that Baker also failed to take decisive actions. Based on the findings, Crozier and Baker could remain in the Navy, in other jobs at their current rank, but the admonishments are likely career-enders for both. (Crozier received an ovation from the crew as he walked off the Roosevelt.)

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