LEXINGTON -- A U.S. Navy sailor from Lexington aboard an aircraft carrier hit by the COVID-19 outbreak said Thursday evening he was "still doing well."
Meanwhile, the commanding office of the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) has been relieved of of command.
Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly announced the decision during a Pentagon press briefing briefing, according to published media reports.
The crew aboard the massive nuclear-powered warship includes Machinist’s Mate (Nuclear) 2nd Class Jordan Dalton, the focus of a feature in Richland Source on March 14 as a member of the Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group that left San Diego for a scheduled Indo-Pacific deployment on Jan. 17.
Dalton, about 7,600 miles from his former hometown, told Richland Source via Facebook message on Thursday evening he was "still doing well."
An Ohio Cardinal Conference champion and district qualifier while wrestling at LHS, Dalton will mark his fifth year with the Navy in June. He said during an earlier interview he looked forward to shore duty when the cruise ends, which had been scheduled in June.
"I'm not going to lie, I'm excited to start shore duty at the end of this year," Dalton said then. "I really don't like being away from home and my wife, Josephine."
Also, about 1,000 sailors from the nuclear-powered Roosevelt -- roughly a fifth of its crew -- were reportedly under quarantine at a U.S. naval base on Guam on Thursday as the Navy sought to control a coronavirus outbreak aboard ship.
The evacuation began Wednesday, a week after the first COVID-19 case was reported on the carrier.
It also came after the public disclosure of a scathing letter Crozier sent to Navy command urging “decisive action” to control the outbreak.
"Today at my direction the commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Captain Brett Crozier, was relieved of command by carrier strike group commander Rear Admiral Stewart Baker," Modly said.
According to one media report, Modly said Crozier was relieved because he went outside the chain of command and sent his memo over an unsecured system, adding to the chances it could be leaked.
A nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is a national security and military asset and its readiness status while underway is usually safeguarded, officials said.
During the Pentagon briefing, Modly told reporters Crozier was not removed because of any evidence suggesting he leaked the memo to the press, but rather for allowing "the complexity of his challenge with the COVID breakout on the ship to overwhelm his ability to act professionally when acting professionally was what was needed the most at the time."
"I have no information nor am I trying to suggest that he leaked the information. It was published in the San Francisco Chronicle. It all came as a big surprise to all of us that it was in the paper and that's the first time I had seen it," he said. "What I will say, he sent it out pretty broadly and in sending it out broadly he did not take care to ensure that it couldn't be leaked and that's part of his responsibility in my opinion," Modly said.
The information in question was contained in a memo written by Crozier earlier this week to the Navy's Pacific Fleet.
On Wednesday, Modly said 1,273 of the ship's roughly 4,800 crew members have been tested for the virus so far and the Navy was still awaiting the results of some of those tests.
"We already have nearly 1,000 personnel off the ship right now. And in the next couple of days we expect to have 2,700 of them off the ship," Modly told reporters at the Pentagon.
Some sailors will have to remain on the ship.
The Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mike Gilday, told reporters the ship could not be evacuated entirely due to the need to continue to perform essential tasks, such as the operation of the aircraft carrier's nuclear reactor.
He said 1,000 sailors would have to remain on the ship to perform vital tasks.