A Navy commander who sent an email about a coronavirus outbreak on the USS Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier with a crew of approximately 5,000, has been relieved of command. Among the reasons listed for the move was the commander’s use of a personal email to notify others about the outbreak.

At a news conference last night Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly noted that the warning letter was sent over “non-secure unclassified email.” The email was quickly forwarded on and into the media. Capt. Brett Crozier of the USS Theodore Roosevelt was praised for his work, and will keep his rank and remain in the Navy.

Crozier’s letter was dated March 30, and by the next day had found its way into the press. It’s unclear if the letter was leaked by Crozier, or one of the recipients. If the individual who leaked the letter is found to be a member of the military, further disciplinary action is possible.

In his press conference, Modly emphasized that it wasn’t the decision to write the letter which was the issue, it was the unsecure nature, and the fact that it was leaked to the press. “The fact that he wrote the letter up to his chain of command to express his concerns would absolutely not result in any type of retaliation,” Modly stated. The email supposedly had between 20-30 people copied, and not sent through secure email. In Modly’s remarks, he emphasized how the Roosevelt is equipped with some of the most secure, cutting edge communication technology – and yet unclassified systems were used to communicate the message.

Critics of the move have noted that beyond the use of unsecure messaging, Crozier basically broadcasted the unreadiness of his crew, tantamount to a public pronouncement that his crew was unfit to fight.

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