June 19, 2020

Van Hollen, Blumenthal Statement on Navy Decision to Not Reinstate Captain Crozier as Commander of the USS Roosevelt

U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) issued the following joint statement after the Navy announced it would not reinstate Captain Brett Crozier to the USS Theodore Roosevelt. The Navy’s decision follows the conclusion of its Command Investigation into the outbreak of COVID-19 aboard the vessel and the decision to remove Captain Crozier from command.  

“We have serious reservations about this decision, which comes as a surprise. We will carefully review the Navy’s report, but we are disappointed that the initial recommendation to reinstate Captain Crozier has been rescinded without any major new findings of fact. When the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to take hold, there was no formal training in place and the military was responding – like the rest of the world – without clearly defined safety precautions. The Navy’s decision now seems to apply a retroactive standard and after-the-fact procedures and practices to justify Captain Crozier’s firing. In the absence of any solid new evidence, the perception will regrettably remain that Captain Crozier’s removal was retaliation for his email raising concerns about the safety of his sailors.”

In April, 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.