Capt. Brett Crozier, the Navy captain who was removed from command of the coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, has tested positive for COVID-19, according to two Naval Academy classmates of Capt. Crozier’s who are close to him and his family.
A Navy spokesman declined to comment on Capt. Crozier’s COVID status.
The commander began exhibiting symptoms before he was removed from the warship Thursday, two of his classmates said. Capt. Crozier was fired following a leak to The San Francisco Chronicle of a letter he had e-mailed to Navy leaders that detailed the failures on the service’s part to provide the necessary resources to swiftly move sailors off the carrier and disinfect areas on board as the virus spread through the ship.
Thomas Modly, the acting secretary of the Navy, said he had lost confidence in Capt. Crozier’s ability to command the ship effectively as it dealt with the evolving crisis after Capt. Crozier sent the letter on an unclassified e-mail system to 20 to 30 people. Sending such a letter, Mr. Modly said, caused unnecessary alarm about the operational readiness of the ship and undermined the chain of command.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that there were 155 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among sailors aboard the aircraft carrier.
The news of Crozier’s diagnosis is likely to fuel further skepticism of the Navy’s handling of the carrier outbreak, which has already received notable criticism from the rank and file.
A Navy spokesman said that Crozier has been reassigned to the headquarters of the Naval Air Forces Pacific command in San Diego but that he must complete a quarantine period first. The captain was being quarantined in “distinguished visitors quarters” on Naval Base Guam. It is unclear when he was first tested for COVID-19 or when he received his results.
The USS Theodore Roosevelt arrived in the U.S. territory of Guam on March 27 and holds a crew of nearly 5,000 service members. All sailors who are evacuated from the carrier must have a negative test result for COVID-19 before they can be quarantined ashore. At least 400 from the vessel were expected to be sent to hotels in Guam on Sunday. The sailors will join roughly 625 other service members from the Roosevelt who have already tested negative for the virus and have been sent to quarantine.
Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters.