The fired aircraft carrier commander who raised alarm about a coronavirus outbreak placed his 5,000-man crew “at risk” of attack, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said Friday.
Modly slammed Navy Capt. Brett Crozier as videos emerged of sailors cheering wildly for the departing leader, who was fired Thursday.
“Loose lips sink ships, and that’s what happens. And this officer should have known better,” Modly told radio host Hugh Hewitt, slamming the former USS Theodore Roosevelt commander.
A Monday email from Crozier outlining his concern about whether sailors were being kept safe was leaked to the press, resulting in questions at the daily White House press briefing, and public pressure to offload the troops to prevent the virus from sweeping through the men on board, as it has on commercial cruise lines.
“I think his actions put the crew at risk, greater risk,” Modly said. “I think he put the spotlight on the Navy in a negative light when all the things he was asking for we’re surging for him.”
According to Modly, there are “other ships that are out there in the Pacific that are now perhaps on higher standard of alert because our adversaries in the region think that one of our warships might be crippled, which it’s not.”
Modly said Crozier was canned because of how he raised the alarm. He said the captain could have called him, but instead notified people outside the chain of command, allowing the information to leak.
“He decided to send an email and copy that email to a large list of other people who were not in the chain of command, and sent it up also through the chain of command skipping people in the chain of command,” Modly said. “And that, to me, just represented just extremely poor judgment, because once you do that in this digital era, you know that there is no way that you can control where that information’s going to go.”
In his email, Crozier wrote: “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors.”
The ship currently is docked at Guam, where most of the sailors are being offloaded for quarantine. According to Modly, about 140 sailors have tested positive for COVID-19, of whom 95 are symptomatic.
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