The U.S. Navy’s top officials have recommended that Captain Brett Crozier, who was fired after his concerns about a coronavirus outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt were leaked, should be reinstated, The New York Times reported Friday. Their recommendations have been given to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who was expected to make a decision on Crozier’s future as soon as Friday, but has reportedly asked for more time. Esper’s spokesman said on Friday afternoon that he was waiting for a written report from the Navy, which he would then review. “This afternoon, Secretary Esper received a verbal update from the acting Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations on the Navy’s preliminary inquiry into the COVID-19 outbreak on the USS Theodore Roosevelt,” Jonathan Rath Hoffman, assistant to the Secretary of Defense, said. “After the Secretary receives a written copy of the completed inquiry, he intends to thoroughly review the report and will meet again with Navy leadership to discuss next steps. He remains focused on and committed to restoring the full health of the crew and getting the ship at sea again soon.”
Crozier received a hero’s send-off after he was fired over a letter, sent to several superiors, in which he desperately asked the Navy to do more to stop a coronavirus outbreak among sailors. However, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly then fell on his sword too when he called Crozier “stupid” in a crude speech to the ship’s crew. A reinstatement of Crozier would be a stunning about-face in what has become a political, military, and heath-care crisis. At least 850 sailors, from about 4,800 on board, have tested positive for coronavirus and one sailor has died. Crozier also tested positive for the virus.