May 11, 2020

Van Hollen, Blumenthal Statement on DOD Inspector General Probe Into Navy’s Coronavirus Protocols

U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) issued the following joint statement after the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Inspector General’s office announced the launch of an evaluation to determine if the Navy has implemented policies and procedures to prevent and mitigate the spread of infectious diseases – including COVID-19 – on ships and submarines.

"We are pleased that the Inspector General will evaluate Navy protocols to prevent and mitigate the spread of infectious diseases. This imperative evaluation will help get to the bottom of the deeply troubling reports about a bungled Navy response that resulted in nearly a quarter of the crew on the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT testing positive for the virus in addition to outbreaks on other ships and submarines. With the pandemic still ongoing, it is vital that the Navy have protective measures and best-practices in place to guarantee the health and safety of all Sailors. This investigation must ensure accountability across the Pentagon, and the Navy should apply lessons learned across the fleet to prevent further spread of this challenging virus.

Additionally, we look forward to reviewing the ongoing Navy investigation into the removal of Captain Crozier as commander of the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT to determine whether an Inspector General investigation into these circumstances is also warranted."

The DOD Inspector General’s announcement comes after Van Hollen and Blumenthal led a group of 17 Senators calling on the Inspector General to conduct a formal investigation into troubling reports about the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT COVID-19 outbreak and decision to relieve Capt. Brett Crozier of his command of the ship.

The full text of the Senators’ letter is available here.

The DOD IG’s response letter to the Senators is available here.