The Letter

I think you have to look at the facts, with regard to Captain Bret Crozier and the USN.

  1. The GOAT (“Greatest of All Time”) was, and is, probably one of the best leaders in the USN, if not the best. He obviously was the best for the job. You don’t get to be Captain of an aircraft carrier making any mistakes or errors of significance in life. None.
  2. A captain is responsible for everything that happens on board the ship, whether or not he or she has made an error. When things go wrong, like collisions while someone else is on duty and somebody dies, the “would have,” “should have” standard applies. You are removed. You are accountable. We were taught that you can delegate authority, but not responsibility. The Captain knows that, I’m certain.
  3. It’s highly likely that the GOAT communicated the urgency of the situation to his superior (that’s being reported now). I know it’s an assumption, more than a proven fact. However, I was in the USN and chain-of-command is the way it works. Period. He didn’t only write the letter. He probably did more, and I’m surely convinced on belief that the logs will show that truth.
  4. Every human being under the authority of a captain is accounted for, daily (and hourly). That is fundamental. Therefore, it is known (or can be determined) where the ship has been, who was off the ship and when they were off and, thus, who may have been in contact with those who were not, if any. Thus, it can be determined when and where exposure may have occurred with reasonable certainty.
  5. The rate at which sailors were being afflicted would be evident to the Navy corpsmen and doctors, and, of course, communicated to the Captain. There are only so many beds available in the sick bay. Likewise, there are only so many beds available on a ship. The sailors share quarters. They also talk to each other. The doctors and corpsmen probably (I’d say 100%) gave their recommendations to the Captain.

My guess is that the Captain let a Rear Admiral know and was awaiting a decision and directions via electronic media and personal official voice communication — the chain-of-command. The Captain may have made a recommendation on the course of action he needed, in his position of authority. It was obviously drafted and sent through channels, on official letterhead. If he’s the kind of leader I believe him to be. I’d put money on it that he did. (I just read the letter in its entirety. He did).


Obviously, the Commander-in-Chief would have had to have been informed. Now, whether a decision was made or there was a failure to timely respond with directions or an order, I don’t know. I’d suspect it was not the latter, i.e., that he failed to follow an order.

I heard what the Commander-in-Chief said and felt about the civilian ship that was off the coast of San Francisco. And, unlike many of us, the president has not served. All I can say is that there is a certain view of reality one gets when one’s ass is on the line.

I’m speculating there was a significant failure of leadership at some level above the Captain. One’s authority and power to direct include one fact: to not decide what to do is, nevertheless, a decision — an indecisive act.

That goes along with the principle a great leader lives by: You can delegate authority, but you cannot delegate responsibility. So, you must ask yourself, Who is ultimately responsible?

So, it’s very simple: the Captain was the sacrificial “goat,” figuratively. There are two goats that are brought to the sacrificial alter. The scapegoat gets to escape death and is let go (or so the Bible says) into the political wilderness. The other goat is sacrificed for the sins of the people. Thrown into the fire, that goat is burned alive (i.e., “fired”). It’s in the Bible.

It is not without significance that Captain Crozier is called the “GOAT”. The Captain sacrificed his career, and thus, his professional life. He was tracking to become a Rear Admiral (the person to whom a captain reports). Probably one of the best.

What we’ve been told is that the Captain failed to follow protocol. By that, I think we’re being told that he was supposed to do nothing until told what to do. He probably wasn’t told to not say anything about what was happening on the ship. Even if he was, he wasn’t told the sailors couldn’t communicate with those outside of the USN. And, if he wasn’t given any instruction on what to do he alone faced a moral dilemma.

His situation was urgent. Imagine, for a moment, a ship leaking and sinking. Knowing at the rate of leaking, in a matter of time sailors were already in the water, going to drown. Where were the life preservers?

Well, all you have to do is listen to the sailors chants of support for the actions taken. They know the truth: the man saved their ass in all probability and sacrificed his career and professional life.

He’s a true hero and to be Admired. That’s true courage.