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Navy leaders recommend Mark Esper reinstate fired Roosevelt commander

Top Navy officials have recommended that Brett Crozier, seen during an all-hands call on the flight deck of the USS Theodore Roosevelt in November 2019, be reinstated to his role as captain of the aircraft carrier. Photo by Nicholas Huynh/U.S. Navy
Top Navy officials have recommended that Brett Crozier, seen during an all-hands call on the flight deck of the USS Theodore Roosevelt in November 2019, be reinstated to his role as captain of the aircraft carrier. Photo by Nicholas Huynh/U.S. Navy | License Photo

April 24 (UPI) -- Top Navy officials have asked Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper to reinstate Brett Crozier as captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, but Esper has asked for more time before signing off on the decision.

Chief of Naval operations Admiral Michael M. Gilday and Acting Navy secretary James McPherson recommended Crozier's reinstatement in a briefing that took place as officials waited for results on Navy investigation into the matter Friday.

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On Friday Pentagon officials confirmed Esper had "received a verbal update" regarding the Navy's inquiry into the COVID-19 outbreak on the Roosevelt.

"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," the statement said.

RELATED Roosevelt crew isolation extended as Navy, CDC investigate COVID-19 outbreak

Crozier was dismissed from his post at the beginning of April after sending a memo asking for more resources to contain a COVID-19 outbreak on the aircraft carrier.

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Then-Acting Navy Secretary Thomas B. Modly subsequently resigned from his post after a recording of him calling Crozier "naive or stupid" went public.

Modly had also claimed that Crozier had sent the email to "20 or 30" other individuals, but an investigation by the Washington Post found that it was actually sent to a small number of Navy officials.

RELATED Roosevelt sailors scrub ship in 'bleach-a-palooza' to end COVID-19 outbreak

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) released a statement Friday calling for Crozier's reinstatement.

"While Captain Crozier's actions at the outset of the health crisis aboard the TR were drastic and imperfect, it is clear he only took such steps to protect his crew," Smith wrote. "Not only did Captain Crozier have the full support of his crew, he also attempted to work within his chain of command. During this time of crisis, Captain Crozier is exactly what our Sailors need: a leader who inspires confidence."

The Roosevelt has been docked in Guam since the end of March to isolate and test its crew of 4,800 for the novel coronavirus.

RELATED Navy reports first coronavirus-related death aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt

As of Friday, 840 crew members had tested positive for the virus. One has died, four are in the hospital and 88 have recovered from the virus.

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The rest of the ship's crew remains isolated on the island.

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