WASHINGTON (Reuters) – More than 120,000 people have signed a petition calling on the U.S. Navy to reinstate the captain of a coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier a day after he was relieved of his command for a letter sent to superiors urging stronger measures to halt the outbreak.
Captain Brett Crozier was relieved of his command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt on Thursday after a scathing letter in which he called on the Navy to take “decisive action” to halt the spread of the virus aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier was leaked to the media.
“His actions possibly saved many lives,” the online petition said. “Although he was fired, his plan to safely remove crew members was still implemented. He is a hero who should be rewarded.”
On Friday, one day after the launch of the petition on Change.org, over 123,000 people had signed, well on the way to the goal of 150,000.
The removal of Crozier, first reported by Reuters, was announced by acting U.S. Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, who said the senior officer of the nuclear-powered vessel of 5,000 crew members had exercised poor judgment in the way he “broadly” distributed his letter.
Even as he was hailed as a hero by his crew as he left the ship, Crozier was to be reassigned while investigators consider whether he should face disciplinary action, Modly told Reuters on Friday.
Crozier called for removing more than 4,000 sailors from the ship and isolating them, and wrote that unless the Navy acted immediately it would be failing to properly safeguard “our most trusted asset – our sailors.”
Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis in Washington; Editing by Mary Milliken and Matthew Lewis