Congress lawmakers request investigation of Navy's firing of captain
Democratic lawmakers have formally protested to the Navy's dismissal of the commander of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, who requested urgent aid to stop a coronavirus outbreak on board his ship.
Lawmakers from both chambers of Congress formally requested on Friday that the Pentagon's independent Inspector General immediately investigate the firing of Captain Brett Crozier.
Crozier was relieved of his command on Thursday after his request for help to contain the coronavirus outbreak on his ship was leaked to the media.
"Given the extraordinary circumstances under which these events took place, we believe a closer examination by a neutral third party is warranted," Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Chris Van Hollen (Md.) wrote a letter co-signed by 15 of their colleagues to Pentagon Inspector General Glenn Fine requesting an investigation into the events leading to the dismissal of Crozier, who was highly regarded by his ship's crew for risking his career for the sake of their the health and safety.
“It is essential that your office conduct a comprehensive investigation to avoid any potential conflicts of interest within the Navy chain of command, and we encourage you to evaluate all relevant matters associated with the dismissal and the outbreak on the ship,” the Senators wrote in their letter.
Separately, House Democratic Reps. Ted Lieu (Calif.) and Ruben Gallego (Ariz.) wrote to Fine, also on Friday, demanding "an investigation into this matter as soon as possible.”
"As veterans, we were taught that protecting the health and safety of troops was one of the highest priorities of any commander," they wrote.
The House Representatives added that they were "disturbed" by the abrupt dismissal of Crozier by the Navy.
On Thursday evening, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly announced he had dismissed Crozier from command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt.
Crozier had warned in a letter prior to his dismissal that a number of the sailors serving on board the ship had tested positive to the novel coronavirus.
In the letter, he had warned that if most of the crew on board the Roosevelt weren’t evacuated and treated quickly they might all perish due to the uncontrollable spreading of the virus on board the vessel.
“If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our sailors,” Crozier wrote.
As of Friday, 137 sailors out of the estimated 5,000 crew on board the nuclear US war ship had been infected despite all measures to prevent the spreading of the virus on board the ship.
The USS Theodore Roosevelt is currently docked in the strategic Guam Naval Base in the Pacific Ocean.