Small Wars Journal

The Navy Captain and the Coronavirus

Sun, 04/05/2020 - 12:38am

The Navy Captain and the CoronavirusWall Street Journal Editorial

Social distancing is a luxury you don’t have aboard a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. So a word about Thursday’s firing of a Navy officer who showed up in the news asking for help containing a coronavirus outbreak on his ship, the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

Many have been quick to lionize Capt. Brett Crozier as a hero who spoke up in defense of his crew. His March 30 four-page letter, which leaked to the press this week, said he urgently needed to offload some 4,000 deployed sailors to quarantine in Guam to arrest the virus. It is bracing reading. “If we do not act now,” Capt. Crozier wrote, “we are failing to take care of our most trusted asset—our Sailors.” It isn’t clear who leaked the letter.

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said Thursday that he’d relieved Capt. Crozier for showing “extremely poor judgment.” Mr. Modly said the captain sent his letter to 20 or 30 people over an unclassified channel and was operating outside normal procedures in the chain of command. These are serious, fireable offenses, and Capt. Crozier could have offered his resignation instead if he felt he’d exhausted his ability to care properly for his sailors…

Read on.