Trump backs firing of COVID-19-stricken carrier’s captain

Washington, April 5 (IANS) US President Donald Trump has said that he supported the ousting of Brett Crozier, captain of aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, which has been hit by a COVID-19 outbreak.

Trump told reporters at the White House on Saturday that Crozier’s internal letter pleading help from his superiors to contain the virus’ spread on the nuclear-powered vessel “looked terrible”, reports Xinhua news agency.
“He wrote a letter. A five-page letter from a captain. And the letter was all over the place. That’s not appropriate, I don’t think that’s appropriate,” Trump said.
In the letter Crozier sent to the Navy’s Pacific Fleet earlier this week, he asked the Pentagon to facilitate moving 90 per cent of the crew into isolation for two weeks on Guam, otherwise “we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors”.”Decisive action is required. Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed US nuclear aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure,” the letter read.
“Keeping over 4,000 young men and women on board the TR is an unnecessary risk and breaks faith with those Sailors entrusted to our care.”
Currently docked in Guam, the Roosevelt reported 155 positive cases as of Saturday, up 13 per cent within 24 hours, and 44 per cent of the roughly 5,000 crew have been tested, according the Navy.
The Navy planned to transfer a total of 2,700 sailors onto Guam, leaving the rest of the crew on board to maintain the operation of the ship.
As of Saturday, 1,548 service members have been evacuated and none of those infected with the disease have been hospitalized, the Navy said.
Navy officials initially believed a port call in Da Nang, Vietnam, between late February and early March might be related to the spread of the coronavirus among the crew members.
But Navy Admiral Michael Gilday has downplayed that hypothesis.
Trump, however, chided Crozier for the port call. “Perhaps you don’t do that in the middle of a pandemic,” he said, adding: “History would say you don’t necessarily stop and let your sailors get off,” he said at the White House briefing on Saturday.
Crozier received a standing ovation from a large crowd of sailors under his command when disembarking the ship on Friday.
Also on Friday, Senate Democrats called for a formal investigation into the Navy’s response to the virus outbreak as well as its decision to remove the captain, while the party’s presidential contender Joe Biden hailed Crozier as being “faithful to his duty”.