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The ousted commander of the coronavirus-stricken USS Theodore Roosevelt may face further disciplinary action, the acting Navy secretary said.
“He’ll get reassigned; he’s not thrown out of the Navy,” Thomas Modly said of Capt. Brett Crozier in an interview with Reuters on Friday.
Modly said everyone, including the aircraft carrier commander, deserves a chance at “redemption.”
Crozier, 50, was relieved of his command following the publication of a letter he wrote to senior military officials. The letter described the dire situation on the ship following an outbreak of the virus and demanded help.
Modly ordered Crozier to step down, citing a failure to follow the Navy's chain of command and a “panic” that the letter incited.
Modly has stated that the letter was shared too widely, too quickly, and it was published before he could read it.
Crozier’s final punishment will be decided following an investigation into the incident.
“I’m not going to direct them to do anything (other) than to investigate the facts to the best of their ability. I cannot exercise undue command influence over that investigation,” Modly said.
Crozier’s removal has been highly controversial, with videos and images spreading over social media showing the overwhelming support of the Roosevelt crew, as well as petitions calling for Crozier to be reinstated.
Over 120,000 people have signed the petition.
The Navy said Friday that 137 crew members had tested positive for the virus and that nearly 600 sailors were being quarantined in Guam.
Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden accused the Trump administration of poor judgment, and a group of prominent Democratic senators has formally requested an independent investigation into the firing.