Something happened last week, it was seen in the BBC news when we were given ‘Captain pleads for help over outbreak’, in this case it is Captain Crozier of the USS Theodore Rooseveld. I initially wondered how they dealt with other flu scenarios, taking into consideration that except from him and his CO, the people on that ship are pretty much all of them in the lower than 1% mortality rate group. Most people in Las Vegas would give their wife, oldest daughter and mistress for those odds, so why is there an overreaction?
I was uneasy with the entire ‘No one has to die’ approach. This is a warship and here my Merchant Navy knowledge, training and education is a little help. I understand and accept the hierarchy that is important on EVERY boat, Article 2 is about the responsibility of the ship’s captain (ZAR, when I was in School) and I remember that part (reference to the Ships Collision Regulation). Yet it is larger and harder on a war vessel. I do not envy the situation that Captain Crozier found himself in, but the entire stage is an altered one, and the alteration matters.
It requires me to repeat the part that I gave three days ago, the age based mortality curve.
80+ years old 14.8%
70-79 years old 8.0%
60-69 years old 3.6%
50-59 years old 1.3%
40-49 years old 0.4%
30-39 years old 0.2%
20-29 years old 0.2%
10-19 years old 0.2%
Consider that the bulk of a naval vessel will have people between 20 and 39 years of age. This Captain is setting the odds against a stage where he runs the risk of optionally losing 8 people, and that is in a stage where complications set in. Lets not forget that military staff tends to be in much better condition then the average person in that same age, so optionally the risk for these groups is 20%-30% lower than the numbers we see, and I admit that this is slightly speculative, yet I feel that this is correct. As such I stand behind the Secretary of the Navy, or as we could consider the nanny of Captain Crozier,who set himself up in all kinds of ways. Letters ‘leaked’ to the press, the view of the navy and a few other matters makes me a supporter of Thomas Modly and the actions he took in this (name calling disregarded).
Yes, we want all crews to be 100% safe, but it is and remains a war vessel, there are priorities that need to be met and on a crew of 4000, losing 8 people is not nice, but not unrealistic either. In all this, the entire ‘plead for help’ was massively stupid, and he knew this, mainly because he would have send any considerations on the pandemic to the Admiralty (its American equivalent) and that does not seem to have been the case.
Perhaps there is a side where I am wrong and I should not call his actions ‘massively stupid’ yet there are other actions he could have taken and if it is not written down it does not exist, it is that simple in political actions and this was in part a political move, lets make no illusions on that. In this, it is my opinion that the call by Joe Biden (stating that the firing of Captain Crozier was close to criminal) is wrong, or at least this is how I perceive it to be. The Captain called doubt on the functioning of an American Warship and that is never OK. I cannot tell you what is the right action, but the visibility was wrong, there are rules, regulations and visibility of those in charge and most civilians do not understand it. That is not their fault, but there is a given where the function of a warship even in peacetime is extensive and we forget or shut our eyes to this and in civilian life that is fine, in the eyes of defence it is not.
Showing your optional enemies that there is weakness and handing this out in a letter is folly, my mind remains focussed on who ‘leaked’ the letter, because that is the larger enemy in all this, not Captain Crozier (unless he leaked the letter).