US Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Sunday defended the removal of a Navy captain who blew the whistle about a coronavirus outbreak aboard his aircraft carrier, saying that’s “how we hold leaders accountable.

“I think Acting [Navy] Secretary [Thomas] Modly made a very tough decision, a decision that I support,” Esper said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” referring to Modly’s removal of Capt. Brett Crozier as commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

“It was based on [Modly’s] view that he had lost faith and confidence in the captain based on his actions,” Esper said. “It was supported by Navy leadership, just another example of how we hold leaders accountable for their actions.”

Crozier was dismissed last week after he wrote to Navy brass urging them to quarantine the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt while the aircraft carrier was docked in Guam, a US territory in the Pacific.

“Sailors do not need to die,” Crozier wrote.

The letter was leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle, which published it.

Esper said 155 sailors have tested positive for the coronavirus and that all of the cases are “mild and moderate.”

Crozier also has tested positive, the New York Times reported Sunday.

Asked by CNN host Jake Tapper why Crozier was canned without an investigation into his conduct, Esper said a probe is “ongoing.”

He added that commanders are sometimes removed without “benefit of an investigation” when superior officers lose confidence in them.

“It’s certainly not unique to the Navy. The Navy has a culture of swiftly and decisively removing captains if they lose confidence in them,” he said.

But Joe Biden, the 2020 Democratic presidential frontrunner, said Crozier has been treated atrociously.

“I think it’s close to criminal the way they’re dealing with this guy. Not his conduct. The idea that this man stood up and said what had to be said, got it out that his troops, his Navy personnel, were in danger,” the former vice president said Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week.” “Look at how many have the virus. I think the guy should … have a commendation rather than be fired.”

But President Trump ripped Crozier for his actions.

“He wrote a letter. A five-page letter from a captain. And the letter was all over the place. That’s not appropriate, I don’t think that’s appropriate,” Trump said during Saturday’s coronavirus briefing.“It looked terrible what he did. To write a letter. I mean this isn’t a class on literature. This is the captain of a massive ship … He shouldn’t be talking that way in a letter.”

Source: nypost.com/feed