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"Is The Roosevelt Captain A Martyred Hero Or A Disloyal" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse07 Apr 2020 3:10 p.m. PST


"The Navy has fired the captain of the USS Roosevelt after publication of the captain's four-page letter, wherein he pleaded for help and complained that the Navy was not doing enough to protect his crew. Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly criticized him for not informing his superiors and "going outside the chain of command."

Whether he is viewed in the long-term as a martyred hero or disloyal subordinate depends a lot on what the captain told the people above him and whether he was complicit in leaking the letter. The controversy also reflects a broader debate about the balance between force protection and military readiness. At a time when the United States is not at war, as the captain pointed out, should the military just focus on staying healthy?…"
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Personal logo 15mm and 28mm Fanatik Supporting Member of TMP07 Apr 2020 3:16 p.m. PST

He's being politicized right now with the ruckus between him and the Navy Secretary. He bypassed the chain-of-command knowingly because he knew that going through the normal channels would not get the desired result he wanted or needed, so he emailed a bunch of people knowing that's the only way to get the carrier docked and the press will jump on it creating a firestorm of controversy. It's a classic Whistleblower strategy. As for hero or zero, it depends. He's a hero to the thousands of men and women on the carrier who believe that he saved them from the coronavirus, but a zero to his superiors who believe he "overreacted."

Now discuss.

pzivh43 Supporting Member of TMP07 Apr 2020 3:32 p.m. PST

I think he showed a startling lack of good judgement and over-reacted by shotgunning his letter out to the world.

14Bore07 Apr 2020 3:41 p.m. PST

He blew it broadcasting to the world.

Stryderg07 Apr 2020 5:12 p.m. PST

I think it's far too soon to try an determine his hero/zero status. That will be for the pundits, media and his chain of command and probably the courts to decide. My personal opinion, yeah, I have one.

USAFpilot07 Apr 2020 6:02 p.m. PST

The loudest pundits will politicize it; not caring an iota about the Captain, the Secretary, or the Navy.

MiniPatton07 Apr 2020 6:26 p.m. PST

His sailors seem to hold him in high regard.

TGerritsen Supporting Member of TMP07 Apr 2020 8:08 p.m. PST

Can we stop saying he was fired? The military doesn't fire anyone. He was relieved of command of his ship. He's still in the Navy, still holds his rank, and still gets a paycheck. That is not what happens when you are fired.

As an ex-sailor, I'm torn. He clearly violated the chain of command and panicked the families and friends of his 5,000 sailors. He also put any potential enemy on notice that his ship was impaired. That seems reckless and unprofessional.

I have to wonder if there was another way for him to raise the alarm within official channels and the chain of command. You can't run a military where every commander decides screw it and goes widely public the moment there is trouble.

On the other hand, if this truly was the only way he could raise the alarm, then it's a wake up call for the Navy to create a secure and serious way for commanders to create a proper procedure.

A commander who steps outside the chain of command, even justified, however, knows that he will face consequences for doing so. I suspect he knew and accepted this when he made the decision.

I think relieving him was probably called for, though the impact on his career as a whole needs further review and consideration. If he truly had no other choice, then he should be on the list for further ship commands. If not, the he should be slow tracked and consider his options.

CORIVGRU08 Apr 2020 5:19 a.m. PST

Neither, he didn't follow PSEC procedures and let information that should not have gotten into the public domain get there.

Major Mike08 Apr 2020 6:17 a.m. PST

He was a fool that played the game "You bet your bars". He didn't get that far without someone of higher rank having "sponsored" or mentored him along the way. A number of different channels for him to go thru if he was concerned for his crew. No different than a commander that couldn't train his people properly to stand watch and prevent a collision. At worst, he panicked. But, for now, he is a media darling.

darthfozzywig Supporting Member of TMP08 Apr 2020 7:16 a.m. PST

+1 TGerritsen. I was raised Navy, so this is all fairly close to home in a number of meanings. We don't know enough to clearly evaluate things but TGerritsen lays out the dimensions well.

USAFpilot08 Apr 2020 8:29 a.m. PST

Is it possible that the Captain was both wrong and right? Wrong for circumventing the chain of command when he didn't get an answer he liked, but also right for doing what it took to take care of his crew.

Personal logo 15mm and 28mm Fanatik Supporting Member of TMP08 Apr 2020 11:44 a.m. PST

Is it possible that the Captain was both wrong and right?

Yes, it's called a moral dilemma. He was right in putting the welfare of his people before "the mission" but also wrong for that same reason. While servicemembers risk their lives defending the nation at war, the captain's argument is that we're not at war and losing even a single sailor to Covid-19 is one too many.

And it looks like there's already fallout for the SecNavy's "callous and insensitive" comments in his address to the crew in the wake of the captain's ouster.


Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse08 Apr 2020 11:52 a.m. PST

Good point!.


HMS Exeter08 Apr 2020 1:42 p.m. PST

I have to think the Battle Group Commander is also planning out his early retirement. The breach of good order and discipline occurred on his watch.

svsavory08 Apr 2020 9:36 p.m. PST

And now the acting Navy Secretary is out.

Personal logo 15mm and 28mm Fanatik Supporting Member of TMP08 Apr 2020 10:18 p.m. PST

Yeah, you might say the colorful adjectives he chose to describe the captain's level of intelligence during his uplifting speech to the Roosevelt's crew weren't received particularly well. They were as ill-advised as the decision made by the captain which he was unsuccessfully trying to impress upon them.

ROUWetPatchBehindTheSofa09 Apr 2020 9:20 a.m. PST

I'm fairly certain that the vast majority of professional navies positively select against panicky and stupid in their capital ship captains!

As for the mission versus compliment I'm fairly certain that a ships compliment ravaged by COVID-19 isn't going to be massively mission capable.

Personal logo 15mm and 28mm Fanatik Supporting Member of TMP09 Apr 2020 10:03 a.m. PST

Exactly. I expect posterity will show that the captain did the right thing. Had he not acted swiftly and quarantined his crew at Guam with all haste, even if he had to bypass the COC and the usual bureaucratic red-tape and delays, things would have gotten a lot worse.

As of now there are over 400 cases of Covid-19 among the crew of the Roosevelt, with one (a CPO) in critical condition at ICU:


ROUWetPatchBehindTheSofa11 Apr 2020 11:46 a.m. PST

Would have though that there would be solid and well developed procedures for dealing with an infectious disease outbreak on a navy ship given the ramifications – the kind of thing a Captain would be expected to do as a matter of course and with all haste without having to shove things up and down the chain of the command…?

The demography of a typical naval ship crew probably means that the odds are stacked somewhat in their favour regarding the outcome of catching COVID-19, but there are no certainties.

I'd be interested to know the real truth of this episode.

RudyNelson11 Apr 2020 4:45 p.m. PST

First issue was the Pentagon making him stop in Vietnam when there were active cases there. The ship's cases has an origin there.
The Pentagon rejected up through the chain of command actions.

He may have weighed the options, knowing the end of his career was likely and decided to take the action that he did.
The lives of the crew was worth more to him than his career.

I have witnessed similar decisions by officials against organizations. Right or wrong the official is always canned.

Personal logo 15mm and 28mm Fanatik Supporting Member of TMP11 Apr 2020 5:36 p.m. PST

He may have weighed the options, knowing the end of his career was likely and decided to take the action that he did.

Sounds like a classic case of Catch-22.

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