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Navy Will Dump Beloved Capt. Crozier After All

They now say he didn't follow guidelines in wake of COVID outbreak which affected more than 1,000 of his sailors.

Capt. Brett Crozier addresses the crew of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) during a change of command ceremony in November 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sean Lynch/Released)

UPDATED 6/20 9:40 a.m. ET

Maybe the Navy was just buying time or maybe they got more information, but according to reports the service is not going to reinstate Capt. Brett Crozier to his command of the USS Roosevelt.

It also looks like, in order to take politics out of the picture, the Navy is blaming Crozier and his Admiral Stuart Baker, whose promotion is now on hold, for bad leadership and for not following COVID guidelines—and not for Crozier’s controversial April email pleading for help, which got him in trouble (and made him a hero) in the first place. This is a new twist.

From a press briefing by the investigating officers Adm. Michael Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations and Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite on Friday:

“While I previously believed Captain Crozier should be reinstated, following his relief in April, after conducting an initial investigation, the much broader, deeper investigation that we conducted in the weeks following that had a much deeper scope,”(Gilday) said.
Both Gilday and Braithwaite said the Navy failed to investigate the matter properly during its preliminary review. More:
The deeper investigation concluded that Crozier and the Strike Group Commander, Rear Adm. Stuart Baker, “did not do enough, soon enough to fulfill their primary obligation … and they did not effectively carry out our guidelines for events spread of the virus,” according to Gilday.
“Both Admiral Baker and Captain Crozier fell well short of what we expect of those in command. Had I known then what I know today, I would have not made that recommendation to reinstate Captain Crozier. Moreover, if Captain Crozier were still in command today, I would be relieving him,” he said.
Though Crozier has been relieved of command of the ship, he is expected to remain in the Navy.
Baker will also be held accountable for poor decision-making and his promotion is being put on hold, the Navy said in a statement.
“They were slow, eggressing sailors off the ship. And they failed to move sailors to available safer environments quickly,” Gilday said. “When obstacles arose, both failed to tackle the problem head on and to take charge. And in a number of instances they placed crew comfort in front of crew safety.”
It sounds like that last part might be referring to the grand send-off for Crozier by his sailors which was caught on video and spread virally as a testament to their support in the wake of his firing. Many have commented about the apparent lack of social distancing in the scene.
The other claims seem to be arising from the leadership issues and friction between Crozier and Baker and how they were responding to the outbreak. More from The Wall Street Journal:

The Navy described Capt. Crozier responding slowly to the outbreak on the carrier even as his email pushed for a faster response. As the virus spread, Capt. Crozier released sailors suspected to carry the virus from quarantine, Adm. Gilday said. The Roosevelt’s commander also didn’t craft a plan to get sailors off the ship quickly once it docked in Guam.

“This all about what Capt. Crozier failed to do within his span of control,” Adm. Gilday told reporters. “His ship, his crew, his plan.”

Interestingly, the Crozier email, which was leaked to The San Francisco Chronicle, seems not to be the primary reason now for his troubles. From CNN:
The investigation did not fault Crozier for sending the email and attached memo but faulted him for not having all the facts in hand, leaving off people that needed to see it, and not warning Baker in advance that he was sending it.
Gilday reiterated Friday that Crozier was not relieved because of the email or the subsequent leak but he made clear they were what sparked the controversy.
“The determination that I just mentioned about his not being reinstated to command, and the action holding the strike group commander’s promotion in advance, that’s not about the email that he sent, and it’s certainly not about the fact that it leaked,” he said.
The impassioned email in which he said, “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,” was sent to a number of top Navy officials, in and out of the chain of command, over an unsecured network.

It is convenient for the brass that the news cycle and public attention have since turned to other pressing matters—reopening the country, police killings, protests. Luckily for the crew, out of the ultimately 1,273 sailors with COVID, one in five ended up being asymptomatic, a fact Crozier did not or could not know at the time of his actions.

But the definitive way the case has been closed—pretty much taking the email for which Crozier has been lauded out of the equation and making this more about leadership and process—guarantees we don’t be hearing about this again, one retired top Naval officer told TAC.

“I’ll bet a paycheck no one wants to ever discuss this again,” he said. “We won’t be hearing from Crozier again.”

about the author

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, executive editor, has been writing for TAC since 2007, focusing on national security, foreign policy, civil liberties and domestic politics. She served for 15 years as a Washington bureau reporter for FoxNews.com, and at WTOP News in Washington from 2013-2017 as a writer, digital editor and social media strategist. She has also worked as a beat reporter at Bridge News financial wire (now part of Reuters) and Homeland Security Today, and as a regular contributor at Antiwar.com. A native Nutmegger, she got her start in Connecticut newspapers, but now resides with her family in Arlington, Va.

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