The First Sailor from the Coronavirus Whistleblower Captain's Ship Just Died

It's the first death from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, docked in Guam.
April 13, 2020, 3:20pm

A sailor on the Navy aircraft carrier at the center of a military and political controversy has died from complications related to COVID-19, the United States Navy announced Monday.

It’s the first coronavirus death of a USS Theodore Roosevelt crewmember.

The sailor, whose identity is being withheld until a day after his family is notified, tested positive for COVID-19 on March 30 and was placed in an “isolation house” on Naval Base Guam with four other sailors. The sailor was “found unresponsive” at 8:30 a.m. local time on April 9 and was admitted to the Naval hospital in Guam, where he was declared dead Monday.

About 585 members of the ship’s crew of roughly 4,800 had tested positive as of Sunday.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt has been steeped in political turmoil after its former commanding officer, Capt. Brett Crozier, wrote a memo a few weeks ago pleading for help from his Naval superiors to keep the ship’s crew safe from coronavirus. "Keeping over 4,000 young men and women on board the TR is an unnecessary risk and breaks faith with those Sailors entrusted to our care," Crozier wrote.

READ: The Acting Navy secretary just resigned

After the memo was published by the San Francisco Chronicle, then-acting Navy Sec. Thomas Modly relieved Crozier of his command of the ship, and Crozier was reassigned. When he departed the ship, Crozier’s crew cheered for him.

Modly himself resigned from his position last week, after leaked audio revealed he told the ship’s crew that Crozier was either “too naive or too stupid” to be a commanding officer if he didn’t think his memo would eventually be leaked. Modly also told the ship’s crew that their duty wasn’t “to complain.”

More than 90% of the ship’s crew had been tested for the virus as of Sunday, the Navy said. So far, 3,967 sailors have been moved ashore.

Cover: In this photo taken April 7 2020, provided by the U.S. Navy, sailors and staff assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt listen as Vice Adm. William Merz, commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, answers questions during a visit to the ship at Naval Base Guam. (Mass Communication Specialist Kaylianna Genier/U.S. Navy via AP)