WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Navy has decided to conduct a legal investigation of the circumstances surrounding the spread of the coronavirus aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt.
This move effectively delays decisions on the fate of Capt. Brett Crozier, who was relieved of command of the San Diego-based aircraft carrier April 2 after pleading for more urgent Navy action to protect his crew from the virus.
Word of the new inquiry comes from the acting Navy Secretary James McPherson. He said an initial inquiry was insufficient and that he had “unanswered questions ... that can only be answered by a deeper review.”
In a letter to Navy leadership, Crozier requested help as the number of positive cases on the ship grew. However, after the letter leaked to the media, then-acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly removed Crozier as the ship’s commanding officer.
Modly stated he "lost confidence" in the captain because he "allowed the complexity of his challenge with the COVID breakout on the ship to overwhelm his ability to act professionally, when acting professionally was needed most at the time."
While addressing the USS Theodore Roosevelt crew, Modly criticized Crozier for his action and called the captain “too naïve or too stupid” during his remarks. After the comments were made public, Modly apologized and resigned.
Of the 4,800-plus crew members assigned to the USS Theodore Roosevelt, 940 positive coronavirus cases have been reported, with one sailor’s death related to the virus. Crozier is also recovering after testing positive for the virus.
The Navy says 29 sailors have recovered, adding the USS Theodore Roosevelt's cases are not being counted as recovered until sailors receive two successive negative tests.
The carrier is currently docked in Guam and has been on the island since late March.