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The Navy Has Decided To Restore Capt. Brett Crozier

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The Navy has decided to reinstate Capt. Brett Crozier. Now, you may recall he was relieved of command of the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt earlier this month after he complained that the Navy was not doing enough to help his crew, which was stricken with the coronavirus. An extraordinary twist to what has already been a riveting story, I should note, Defense Secretary Mark Esper has yet to sign off on this reinstatement. We do have NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman here. He's on the case.

Hey, Tom.

TOM BOWMAN, BYLINE: Hey, Mary Louise.

KELLY: Why has the Navy reversed course and now say they want to reinstate Capt. Crozier?

BOWMAN: Well. First of all, this was reported first by The New York Times. NPR confirmed it through a U.S. official who is not authorized to talk. The Navy is not saying anything about this, and the Pentagon would only say that Defense Secretary Mark Esper got a verbal update from Navy officials about this case and will review the written investigation. And among the Navy officials who signed off on this reinstatement, we're told, is Adm. Mike Gilday, the top Navy officer. And what's curious is, Adm. Gilday stood next to the acting Navy secretary Thomas Modly earlier this month and said he supported Modly's decision to fire Capt. Crozier.

And again, you'll remember that this all began when Capt. Crozier wrote a letter sounding the alarm about the coronavirus outbreak on his ship and pushing for a swifter action. Military officials were not pleased because his letter went outside the chain of command and ended up in the press. Also, Crozier did not alert his immediate superior to his letter.

KELLY: Huh. Sounds like a lot going on behind the scenes inside the Navy right now. What about - I mentioned that Defense Secretary Esper has not signed off on this. What's going on there?

BOWMAN: Right. And again, you know, he sat down with Navy officials today, and now Esper, the - as a top Pentagon official, could brush aside the move to reinstate Crozier, but at this point, we just don't know. This all also comes at the end of a very messy series of events that resulted in the resignation of acting Secretary Thomas Modly who fired Crozier. And also, President Trump weighed in on this. He was saying that Crozier should not have sent out the letter and he agreed with the firing.

KELLY: What about the man at the center of all this, Capt. Crozier, who not only sounded the alarm but was sick himself? Do we know where he is? Do we know if he's doing better?

BOWMAN: Right. He did test positive. As far as we know, he's doing much better, and he's still on Guam, along with his carrier. He was relieved of command of the Roosevelt, but the Navy said he would get another job. As far as the crew, some 850 of the 5,000-sailor crew tested positive for the virus, and four are still in the hospital.

KELLY: That is NPR's Pentagon correspondent following the latest twists and turns of this story about the USS Roosevelt.

Tom, thank you very much.

BOWMAN: You're welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF JASON ISBELL'S "SAVE IT FOR SUNDAY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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