Ousted USS Theodore Roosvelt captain tests positive for coronavirus, defense official says

Aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) arrives in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, April 27, 2018. Image courtesy Petty Officer 3rd Class Jessica Blackwell / Navy Public Affairs Support Element Detachment Hawaii. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty

 The captain relieved of command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt after warning of an outbreak of the coronavirus on his ship has tested positive for the virus, a U.S. defense official told Fox News on Sunday.

The Navy ousted Capt. Brett Crozier, 50, after he authored a letter warning that the outbreak of the sometimes-deadly virus had created a dire situation on the carrier.

The letter ended up in the hands of a San Francisco Chronicle reporter who first reported its contents last week.

Crozier had started showing COVID-19 symptoms before he was removed from the warship last Thursday, The New York Times first reported, citing two Naval Academy classmates of Crozier's close to him and his family.

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly ordered Crozier to step down, citing a failure to follow the Navy's chain of command. He accused Crozier of inciting “panic” with the letter.

This past Saturday, President Trump said at the White House coronavirus briefing that he backed Modly’s decision.

"He shouldn’t be talking that way in a letter," Trump said of Crozier. "I thought it was terrible what he did."

Defense Secretary Mark Esper told CNN on Sunday that Crozier's removal was warranted, saying, "we hold leaders accountable for their actions."

Navy officials said some 155 sailors on the Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for COVID-19. The carrier has been docked in Guam.

Of the crew of 5,000, the Navy has removed 1,500 sailors from the ship. Half the crew has been tested for the virus.

Viral video captured hundreds of sailors cheering Crozier as he departed the ship to await reassignment by the Navy.