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Navy captain fired after pleading for help on coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier

WASHINGTON — The captain of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier facing a growing outbreak of the coronavirus was fired Thursday by Navy leaders who said he created a panic by sending his memo pleading for help to too many people.

Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the ship’s commander, Capt. Brett Crozier “demonstrated extremely poor judgement” in the middle of a crisis. He said the captain copied too many people on the memo, which was leaked to a California newspaper and quickly spread to many news outlets.

He said Crozier should have gone directly to his immediate commanders, who were already moving to help the ship.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt, with a crew of nearly 5,000, is docked in Guam, and the Navy has said as many as 3,000 will be taken off the ship and quarantined by Friday. More than 100 sailors on the ship have tested positive for the virus, but none are hospitalized at this point.

Modly said Crozier created a panic by suggesting 50 sailors could die.

“What it does, it undermines our efforts and the chain of command’s efforts to address this problem and creates a panic and creates the perception that the Navy is not on the job, the government is not on the job, and it’s just not true,” Modly said.

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