Navy officials have recommended reinstating Capt. Brett Crozier, formerly of the San Diego-based USS Theodore Roosevelt, but Defense Secretary Mark Esper has not made a final decision on restoring Crozier’s command as of Monday morning.

Crozier was fired earlier this month by then-Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly for allegedly copying an emailed letter to several unauthorized parties, in which he asked Navy leadership for help amid a COVID-19 outbreak aboard his ship.

As of Sunday morning, 856 positive COVID-19 cases have been reported among the ship’s approximately 4,845 sailors, with one death stemming from COVID-19 complications. The 50-year-old Crozier has also tested positive. The Roosevelt, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, has been docked in Guam for the past month.

Following the letter’s publication in various media outlets, Crozier was relieved of command, with Modly stating he had “lost confidence” in the captain because he “allowed the complexity of his challenge with the COVID breakout on the ship to overwhelm his ability to act professionally, when acting professionally was needed most at the time.”

Modly resigned less than a week later following his publicized comments to the ship’s crew, in which he called Crozier’s actions “a betrayal,” and said he believed the captain either purposefully sent his letter to unauthorized parties or must have been “too naive or too stupid” to realize the import of his actions.

A senior defense official told POLITICO on Saturday that Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wants to open a “full-blown investigation” into the incident, which would delay a final decision on reinstating Crozier. That official and another official told POLITICO that a final decision on Crozier’s reinstatement is expected this week.

The New York Times reported Friday that Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael M. Gilday and Acting Navy Secretary James McPherson recommended Crozier’s reinstatement, but Esper asked for more time to consider the decision. According to the newspaper, that “surprised Navy officials, who believed the defense secretary would leave the process in the hands of the military chain of command.”

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