Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Aircraft Carrier CO Relieved of Command

 

Captain Brett Crozier was relieved of command for going outside the chain of command because the Coronavirus had infected his ship. His informing of enough people of the problem resulted in the press getting ahold of this story and publicizing it. Crozier emailed 30-plus people but he did not inform his own commanding officer. That’s particularly damning.

Apparently, his actions were popular with the crew as he was cheered when leaving the ship. It’s still early in the story, and there may be more or changed information that could change my mind, but given the facts as I laid out, I agree with the Navy Secretary’s decision.

Here’s some realities about the U.S. military:

  • The mission comes first
  • People are a close second

Not enough people who join the military are told this by their recruiter. Those two maxims should be posted in every recruiting station, so they know where they stand when they raise their right hand to take the oath.

I did know, because before I enlisted, I had taken some courses in ROTC. Because they do tell officer candidates what they don’t explicitly tell enlisted. Captain Crozier forgot. Or he chose to ignore that.

Some other thoughts:

  • This is an important military asset and it was sidelined. There may have been good reasons to risk the crew, if that is what the Navy intended.
  • The personnel on that ship were of low risk of dying, given what we know so far about the demographics and other risk factors. I suspect that the crew would have been fine. When enlisting, you’re given a thorough medical checkup, and those remain ongoing as long as you remain in uniform. If anything, they might have developed an immunity, making the unit more effective.

Captain Crozier will apparently be allowed to remain in the Navy, but if he in effect compromised a major military asset, shouldn’t he be court-martialed?

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  1. J Climacus Member

    I understand that he also emailed over an unsecure system when secured systems were available. And his boss, an Admiral, was on the same ship, so he could have simply walked over and reported to him. There’s got to be a lot more to the story that will eventually come out. A Navy Captain understands the necessity of using the chain of command, so it’s puzzling why he didn’t. And he had to know that advertising to the world that a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier might be sidelined by the virus was a very bad idea. If he didn’t, that’s reason enough for him to be relieved.

    They drilled it into us at Marine OCS and TBS that the mission comes first. If Marines get killed performing the mission… well, that is why we are there.

    • #1
    • April 4, 2020, at 12:14 PM PDT
    • 23 likes
  2. Bob Thompson Member

    Al Sparks:

    Here’s some realities about the U.S. military:

    • The mission comes first
    • People are a close second

    Not enough people who join the military are told this by their recruiter. Those two maxims should be posted in every recruiting station, so they know where they stand when they raise their right hand to take the oath.

    I did know, because before I enlisted, I had taken some courses in ROTC. Because they do tell officer candidates what they don’t explicitly tell enlisted. Captain Crozier forgot. Or he chose to ignore that.

    Are you sure that this is true today? This is the second officer recently in the public view who has not hesitated to step out of the chain of command to draw attention to circumstances in a manner that impugned the authority and judgement of superiors. I recall not long ago a public display by a West Point cadet or graduate lauding Communism and I understand from reputable sources two things that make Crozier’s action recognizable; new approaches in the military and naval academies that would not condemn these actions and the removal of the most senior officers from the service because they don’t subscribe.

    • #2
    • April 4, 2020, at 12:16 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  3. Rapporteur Coolidge

    Yesterday, Hugh Hewitt interviewed acting SECNAV Thomas Modly about his decision to relieve Captain Crozier: https://www.hughhewitt.com/acting-secretary-of-the-navy-thomas-modly-on-the-tr-related-issues/

    • #3
    • April 4, 2020, at 12:20 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  4. Bob Thompson Member

    Al Sparks:

    Captain Crozier will apparently be allowed to remain in the Navy, but if he in effect compromised a major military asset, shouldn’t he be court-martialed?

    I agree. Wouldn’t we be recognizing that warship as being on the frontline of our defense capability?

    • #4
    • April 4, 2020, at 12:25 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  5. Mendel Member
    Mendel Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The flip side of the coin is that you don’t get the highly-coveted position of aircraft carrier CO without knowing how the game is played.

    Capt. Crozell must have been fully aware that as soon as he clicked the “send” button, his minutes remaining in command were severely limited. Not saying that justifies his choice in any way, but I’m certain he knew exactly what his certain fate was and chose to proceed anyhow.

    • #5
    • April 4, 2020, at 12:27 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  6. Stad Thatcher

    Al Sparks: Captain Crozier will apparently be allowed to remain in the Navy, but if he in effect compromised a major military asset, shouldn’t he be court-martialed?

    The punishment doesn’t fit the crime. What he did was wrong (use the chain of command), and he’s been relieved of his command (a black mark in any officer’s service record). He should keep his rank but be made to retire . . .

    • #6
    • April 4, 2020, at 12:28 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  7. Mendel Member
    Mendel Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    What interests me much more than this one captain’s behavior is: how is the Navy supposed to navigate (sorry) Covid outbreaks on boats that are on deployment?

    It’s going to be impossible to keep Covid-19 away from every single member of the crew of such a large boat. But once it’s on, it will probably spread like wildfire since everyone is in such close proximity. Obviously many of the crew will be asymptomatic or only have mild symptoms, but if large swaths of the crew come down with mild to moderate symptoms at the same time, doesn’t that put a huge burden on boats that are already minimally manned? How is a boat an effective warfighting tool if a large portion of the crew is laid up in bed with coughing fits and shortness of breath?

    • #7
    • April 4, 2020, at 12:32 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  8. Bob Thompson Member

    Mendel (View Comment):

    What interests me much more than this one captain’s behavior is: how is the Navy supposed to navigate (sorry) Covid outbreaks on boats that are on deployment?

    It’s going to be impossible to keep Covid-19 away from every single member of the crew of such a large boat. But once it’s on, it will probably spread like wildfire since everyone is in such close proximity. Obviously many of the crew will be asymptomatic or only have mild symptoms, but if large swaths of the crew come down with mild to moderate symptoms at the same time, doesn’t that put a huge burden on boats that are already minimally manned? How is a boat an effective warfighting tool if a large portion of the crew is laid up in bed with coughing fits and shortness of breath?

    This aircraft carrier is a ship of a different category from all other ships in the Navy fleets. Other ships, given such an outbreak, are more easily replaced.

    • #8
    • April 4, 2020, at 12:39 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  9. Vectorman Thatcher

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):
    I recall not long ago a public display by a West Point cadet or Naval Academy graduate lauding Communism…

    FIFY.

    Jimmy Carter

    • #9
    • April 4, 2020, at 12:43 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  10. Buckpasser Member
    Buckpasser Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Mendel (View Comment):

    What interests me much more than this one captain’s behavior is: how is the Navy supposed to navigate (sorry) Covid outbreaks on boats that are on deployment?

    It’s going to be impossible to keep Covid-19 away from every single member of the crew of such a large boat. But once it’s on, it will probably spread like wildfire since everyone is in such close proximity. Obviously many of the crew will be asymptomatic or only have mild symptoms, but if large swaths of the crew come down with mild to moderate symptoms at the same time, doesn’t that put a huge burden on boats that are already minimally manned? How is a boat an effective warfighting tool if a large portion of the crew is laid up in bed with coughing fits and shortness of breath?

    Is that what will happen? I would imagine that the majority of those on the ship are 18-25 year olds. Have we seen everyone in that age group put in the Hospital or on a ventilator? Would this put a ship out of commission? I am asking because I really don’t know.

    • #10
    • April 4, 2020, at 1:05 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  11. PHCheese Member

    My take is that he had COVID-19 and was out of his mind with a fever. Give him a medical discharge.

    • #11
    • April 4, 2020, at 1:05 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  12. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    So-called Whistle blowers are the new media heroes. Maybe that’s what the captain had in mind — that he was going to be the modern day Billy Mitchell. FWIW, I think the CNO made the correct decision.

    • #12
    • April 4, 2020, at 1:26 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  13. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    We know Crozier emailed his letter to more than 30 people. What they are not saying is who those 30 people are. If you are emailing a reporter with the San Francisco Chronicle (the Captain is a native of Santa Rosa) then, yes, he needs relieved of his duties.

    Crozier’s justification was that “we are not at war” is an interesting take. I don’t remember the post-9/11 victory parade. Even so, under what circumstance does any commanding officer get to throw a public tantrum to get his own way? And to announce to all adversaries that you are personally sidelining a major military asset such as a nuclear aircraft carrier?

    • #13
    • April 4, 2020, at 1:39 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
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  14. Locke On Member

    Dept of Lemonade from Lemons: Is this a ready-made test case for saturation testing for COVID antibodies?

    • #14
    • April 4, 2020, at 2:13 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  15. jonb60173 Member

    I stay out of these military issues, it seems to me they have a whole other set of rules that we are not privy to, and therefore things that seem outlandish to us are common place and understood in the military.

    • #15
    • April 4, 2020, at 3:12 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  16. Fritz Member

    Relieving this captain of command seems like the lightest possible consequence. He’d just provided a huge gift to our strategic enemies in the Chinese Communist Party — he supplied real-life information on a carrier group that would, per his report, not be able to perform its mission to its potential because of the illness on board.

    That seems like a pretty worthwhile nugget to score if you’re a CCP military planner keeping an eye on how the US and its forces respond to the Wuhan, China virus, and plotting the next war games around the inevitable CCP attack on Taiwan, or whatever other mischief for which the CCP is also preparing.

    • #16
    • April 4, 2020, at 3:21 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  17. Aloha Johnny Member
    Aloha Johnny Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    CAPT Crozier is a relative and I was at his Change of Command last fall.

    I have no inside information as to what was going through his mind when he decided to hit send. But I know he would not do so lightly. He has no interest in the limelight and always puts his sailors and subordinates first.

    I would advise holding your scorn for a dedicated officer who made a very tough call in a tough situation until more information comes out.

    Just a fact to ponder: The carrier was sailing towards Guam for more than a week and when it docked the brass still had not come up with a way to evacuate the sick and separate the sailors. That is when CPT Crozier sent the email.

    • #17
    • April 4, 2020, at 3:24 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  18. Bob Thompson Member

    Aloha Johnny (View Comment):

    He has no interest in the limelight and always puts his sailors and subordinates first.

     

    I accept what you have said. But, you see, that is exactly the problem. He has jeopardized America for the safety of his crew.

    • #18
    • April 4, 2020, at 4:03 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. Rapporteur Coolidge

    Aloha Johnny (View Comment):

    CAPT Crozier is a relative and I was at his Change of Command last fall.

    I have no inside information as to what was going through his mind when he decided to hit send. But I know he would not do so lightly. He has no interest in the limelight and always puts his sailors and subordinates first.

    I would advise holding your scorn for a dedicated officer who made a very tough call in a tough situation until more information comes out.

    From listening to the SECNAV interview I posted above, my read is that he knew exactly what would happen, and decided that the well-being of his people outweighed the continuation of his career. I find that admirable, and am not sure I’d be able to make the same call in his shoes. 

     

    • #19
    • April 4, 2020, at 4:23 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  20. Rodin Member

    Mendel (View Comment):

    What interests me much more than this one captain’s behavior is: how is the Navy supposed to navigate (sorry) Covid outbreaks on boats that are on deployment?

    It’s going to be impossible to keep Covid-19 away from every single member of the crew of such a large boat. But once it’s on, it will probably spread like wildfire since everyone is in such close proximity. Obviously many of the crew will be asymptomatic or only have mild symptoms, but if large swaths of the crew come down with mild to moderate symptoms at the same time, doesn’t that put a huge burden on boats that are already minimally manned? How is a boat an effective warfighting tool if a large portion of the crew is laid up in bed with coughing fits and shortness of breath?

    This is what readiness reports are for.

    • #20
    • April 4, 2020, at 6:26 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  21. Rodin Member

    EJHill (View Comment):
    Crozier’s justification was that “we are not at war” is an interesting take.

    You have a crew suffering from the Wuhan virus, you are patrolling a patch of water that is greatly coveted by the Chinese Communist government, and China is threatening to withhold medicine and APIs from the pharmaceutical supply chain is we keep calling it the Wuhan flu or Chinese virus. Oh, and recall, Captain Crozier, that the Chinese have a copy of your security clearance personal records they got by hacking the Office of Personnel Management. But, nope, we are not at war.

    • #21
    • April 4, 2020, at 6:31 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  22. Rodin Member

    Aloha Johnny (View Comment):

    CAPT Crozier is a relative and I was at his Change of Command last fall.

    I have no inside information as to what was going through his mind when he decided to hit send. But I know he would not do so lightly. He has no interest in the limelight and always puts his sailors and subordinates first.

    I would advise holding your scorn for a dedicated officer who made a very tough call in a tough situation until more information comes out.

    @alohajohnny, I have reacted in my comments to other statements, assertions, characterization and reports. Your comment reminds me I have no first-hand knowledge and your comment is fair. 

    • #22
    • April 4, 2020, at 6:36 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  23. Al Sparks Thatcher
    Al Sparks

    jonb60173 (View Comment):

    I stay out of these military issues, it seems to me they have a whole other set of rules that we are not privy to, and therefore things that seem outlandish to us are common place and understood in the military.

    And you posted this because…

    If I stay out of an issue, I really stay out. And the military culture isn’t that mysterious.

    • #23
    • April 4, 2020, at 10:10 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  24. Al Sparks Thatcher
    Al Sparks

    Buckpasser (View Comment):
    Is that what will happen? I would imagine that the majority of those on the ship are 18-25 year olds. Have we seen everyone in that age group put in the Hospital or on a ventilator? Would this put a ship out of commission? I am asking because I really don’t know.

    There have been young people that have been affected by the virus, but not very many, and a high percentage of them had underlying conditions.

    The Navy doesn’t accept or keep people who develop underlying conditions of the type that the virus kills.

    All the people on that ship were probably healthy, pre-virus, though with a crew that large, there may have been a person or two that had developed a problem between physicals.

    • #24
    • April 4, 2020, at 10:17 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  25. Al Sparks Thatcher
    Al Sparks

    Aloha Johnny (View Comment):
    I would advise holding your scorn for a dedicated officer who made a very tough call in a tough situation until more information comes out.

    As I said, if more information comes out, I’ll evaluate and consider a change of mind.

    I don’t doubt that he did what he thought was right. I’m not saying he’s craven. I am saying that he didn’t belong in command of a carrier because he wasn’t willing to obey, or in a sense take his crew into harm’s way. He put his people before the mission. He belongs in the civilian world.

    Given the physical fitness of the average member of the military these days, I don’t think his crew was in significant danger.

    The virus is primarily a killer of old people and the physically infirm.

    • #25
    • April 4, 2020, at 10:27 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  26. Mendel Member
    Mendel Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Buckpasser (View Comment):

    Mendel (View Comment):

    Is that what will happen? I would imagine that the majority of those on the ship are 18-25 year olds. Have we seen everyone in that age group put in the Hospital or on a ventilator? Would this put a ship out of commission? I am asking because I really don’t know.

    Al Sparks (View Comment):
    Given the physical fitness of the average member of the military these days, I don’t think his crew was in significant danger.

    I don’t know either. I also have a few relatives who have spent much of their careers serving aboard aircraft carriers, but I don’t know much more than the typical navy enthusiast. But a few things strike me:

    1) Most of the people on board are certainly in a very low-risk age group; that shouldn’t be forgotten.

    2) However, among the younger people who have gotten severely ill, especially doctors, heavy exposure to the virus (such as being coughed on for hours) seems to be a common denominator. A closely-packed aircraft carrier with people coughing everywhere seems like a potential heavy-exposure environment.

    3) Are today’s sailors really that healthy? I seem to recall reading that the Navy has had to reduce its fitness standards (for both sexes) several times in recent years due to too many failures. Plus, how many servicemembers smoke? That seems to be a major risk factor.

    4) Even if most cases would naturally be mild, I can imagine that sending sick people to work on a windy, smoky flight deck would turn a lot of mild cases more serious.

    5) Given the above, it seems like the Navy’s plan is for sick people to be quarantined on board. Even if that’s possible, we saw on the Diamond Princess that the virus can quickly infect up to 20% of the people on a ship. My understanding is that manning is so tight in the Navy (especially in certain areas like the nuclear reactor) that a ship can’t deploy if that many people are out of commission. @stad?

    I’m obviously out of my league here, so maybe I’m overthinking this. However, my general philosophy to the coronavirus response is that it will likely require flexible and creative solutions, and some (hopefully minor) degree of shutting down functions usually considered essential. Based on what I’ve heard from career sailors, “flexible” and “creative” are often the antithesis of the modern Navy.

    • #26
    • April 5, 2020, at 12:21 AM PDT
    • Like
  27. Mendel Member
    Mendel Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Rodin (View Comment):
    But, nope, we are not at war.

    If there was such a high need for the TR to stay at sea, why did Crozier’s supervisors order him to sail to Guam after they detected the virus in a few dozen sailors? That doesn’t sound to me like the Navy places a high priority on keeping a constant presence in the South China Sea.

    I’m not defending Crozier, because it sounds to me like he knowingly crossed a line that would inevitably lead to his firing. But I think some of the armchair “suck it up” punditry here conflicts with what seem to be the clear facts of the case.

    My sense (as a fellow armchair pundit in this case) is that the Navy – and the military in general – has been confronted by a threat which is not necessarily great in magnitude, but which does attack it directly in one of its weak points. Namely, its ability to quickly think outside of the box.

    • #27
    • April 5, 2020, at 12:26 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  28. Bob Thompson Member

    Mendel (View Comment):

    If there was such a high need for the TR to stay at sea, why did Crozier’s supervisors order him to sail to Guam after they detected the virus in a few dozen sailors? That doesn’t sound to me like the Navy places a high priority on keeping a constant presence in the South China Sea.

     

    Your question here seems to make an assumption that being in proximity to Guam means the TR is no longer deployed in the theater of its operation. There’s just no reason for such an assumption. Being near Guam simply enables a needed operation to deal with the effects of the virus on the crew.

    • #28
    • April 5, 2020, at 7:28 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  29. Barfly Member

    Mendel (View Comment):

    What interests me much more than this one captain’s behavior is: how is the Navy supposed to navigate (sorry) Covid outbreaks on boats that are on deployment?

    It’s going to be impossible to keep Covid-19 away from every single member of the crew of such a large boat. But once it’s on, it will probably spread like wildfire since everyone is in such close proximity. Obviously many of the crew will be asymptomatic or only have mild symptoms, but if large swaths of the crew come down with mild to moderate symptoms at the same time, doesn’t that put a huge burden on boats that are already minimally manned? How is a boat an effective warfighting tool if a large portion of the crew is laid up in bed with coughing fits and shortness of breath?

    Answer: it isn’t. 

    You’re right – there is no way to contain an airborne disease, spread by asymptomatic victims, on board a functioning warship. That leaves the option of managing it. 

    I’m looking into how the Navy might plan to manage a plague on board a deployed warship. I’m sure there’s a plan for that, although its been a while since they had to execute it. 

    Two things are sure, tho’. Every officer and crewman is both treasured and expendable – their commanding officer, the President, and the nation have the moral authority to put them through any hell we need to. 

    Second, the Roosevelt’s Captain was replaced because he displayed weakness and poor judgement under pressure, not (as far as I’ve heard) for any specific violation of either the UCMJ or his orders. I find his quick replacement very encouraging, especially in the absence of any mention of punishment. It tells me SecDef and at least some of the flags are on the job.

    • #29
    • April 7, 2020, at 9:12 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  30. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Sec Navy was out of line in his comments addressing the crew. I expect him to be relieved soon.

    • #30
    • April 7, 2020, at 12:43 PM PDT
    • 1 like