Just when you thought Captain Crozier was headed back to the bridge of the USS Theodore Roosevelt and this whole “incident” was just a bad dream for him and the Navy at large, think again.
Crozier is officially not being reinstated. Not only that, but it appears that some other individuals may be “going down with the ship” along with Crozier.
It is relatively obvious that a number of bad decisions were made and there was unprofessional and impulsive behavior committed by all parties involved, which resulted in a smear of bad publicity and misinformation. The rushed decision to remove Crozier before a legitimate investigation was conducted, only complicated the situation.
In April, after the initial “scandal,” Acting Navy Secretary, Thomas Modly, fired Crozier. He then proceeded to fly out to Guam and talk crap about Crozier to the Roosevelt’s crew. This culmination of unscrupulous acts quickly led to his resignation.
Soon after, Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Mike Gilday, was seriously open to giving Captain Crozier his gig back. But, the new Acting Navy Secretary, James McPherson, was not so quick to hand the reigns back to Crozier. He ordered a more in-depth investigation to be conducted on Captain Crozier and the incident as a whole.
This investigation sheds light on what really happened and who should take the fall for this failure of operational leadership and complete lack of sound decision-making.
The premise of Captain Crozier’s desperate call for help was that he was receiving no support from the Navy and that his sailors were being forced to stay on an aircraft carrier that was quickly being overtaken with COVID-19. The fact that the letter was leaked to the mainstream media only escalated the issue further.
The investigation showed that the process to remove sailors from the ship and place them in safe housing on base in Guam was already underway by the time Crozier sent out his email. Furthermore, it was concluded that Crozier did a poor job of getting the crew off in a timely manner. It is reported that Crozier wanted his sailors to stay in hotels, rather than makeshift facilities on base; this only slowed the evacuation. Additionally, the investigation stated, “[Crozier’s] email and letter were sent hours after a decision had been made by the Government of Guam to open hotels for Captain Crozier’s crew. His email neither accelerated that decision nor had any positive impact on the outcome.”
The investigation went on to say that Crozier did not take the necessary measures to enforce social distancing on the ship. According to Admiral Robert Burke, the investigating officer, Crozier “exercised questionable judgment when he released Sailors from aft quarantine onboard the ship.” Admiral Burke added that, “This allowed for increased spread of the virus. He placed comfort of the crew ahead of safety of the crew [sic] at a time when he should have been focused on doing everything he could to slow transmission of COVID-19 by moving Sailors ashore.”
Rear Admiral Stuart Baker, the Carrier Strike Group Commander, is also taking a heavy brunt of the blame for what happened. It was concluded that he was also at fault and his promotion to two-star Admiral will be delayed.
Admiral Burke went on to recommend administrative action be pursued against the Roosevelt’s air wing commander and medical officer.
After the investigation’s conclusion, Admiral Gilday completely changed his tune and was in full support of the removal of Crozier, saying, “Had I known then what I know today, if Capt. Crozier was still in command today, I would have relieved him.” He went on to add, “In reviewing both Admiral Baker and Captain Crozier’s actions, they did not do enough, soon enough, to fulfill their primary obligations and they did not effectively carry out our guidelines.”
The end of this story comes as a surprise. It had seemed that Captain Crozier had won the hearts and minds of the sailors, the Pentagon, and politicians.
The Navy did the right thing by going back and taking the time to make sure they got this right.