The USS Theodore Roosevelt-2269600

Part 1: Analyze The Scenario

Ethical Decision Faced by Captain Crozier

The ethical predicament Captain Crozier was faced with in terms of writing his plea for help on the occurrence of COVID-19 on US Roosevelt was highly profound. Being the ship’s captain, he strove to protect the health of his crew while obeying the military hierarchy. The decision made by the sender, Captain Crozier, was life-or-death for over three thousand sailors entrusted to his care. His intended receiver was not limited to the soldiers but the leaders of various ranks and newspapers that managed to gain the letter.

The message itself was the one that asked for help, an address that showed the seriousness of the problem on the ship and one warranting immediate action to stop the virus from infecting the remainder of the crew (Boot, 2020). The basis of the ethical dilemma is the communication channel adequately chosen by Captain Crozier, which went around the established military norms and standard operating procedures. Firstly, by avoiding proper channels, he jeopardized the authority of his seniors and unity in the military hierarchy.

On the other hand, being morally responsible for his crew members, the captain might feel it was his duty to prioritize their health and safety and undertake all the desperate means to make his demands recorded and heard. By these actions, he can be considered insubordinate and an impediment to a chain of command, raising questions about loyalty and obedience in the military structure. (Asencio et al., 2017). Therefore, Captain Crozier was wronged by triads of sufficiently complex challenges arising from the duty, loyalty, and higher good of the sailors of his ship.

Failures and Successes of the Communication Strategy

The failure of the communication strategy on the part of Captain Crozier manifests in the fact that it foresaw the production of a prolonged sequence of communicative acts beyond that chain of interaction, which was sanctioned, with an ultimate and primary goal to bypass the established chain of command. He also dodged the regular military pecking order by appealing directly to the senior echelons, copying many recipients (Lamothe et al., 2020). This was an act of considerable risk to the military leadership when they ignored procedures such as addressing concerns in any martial law. In addition, the circulation mode, significantly outwards, especially to the press, made this letter more vulnerable to wrong interpretations of sensationalization. This would have led to the loss of control over the script related to the epidemic as well as the disintegration of the credible image of the Navy’s response to the crisis.

The communication strategy implemented by Captain Crozier, despite the controversy associated with his methods, was remarkably successful. Notably, it was pretty effective at making people aware of how serious the situation was on the deck of the USS Theodore Roosevelt (Cruz, 2020). The message received such broad coverage in the news and people, not to mention policy circles, that the sailors’ plight gained it in both terms of attention and the required immediacy. Moreover, the letter’s content remained gripping enough to suggest the seriousness of the situation, demanding an immediate response to safeguard the crew’s health and lives. Captain Crozier recognizes the difficulties he suffered on the ship, and the call for help proves to be in the interests of his build (Asencio et al., 2017). However, his communication strategy became a trigger mechanism that sparked change within the more excellent Navy, prompting serious self-appraisal of protocols surrounding health epidemics on naval ships. The many eyes focused on the letter enforced elite leadership to resolve the situation prematurely with methods to curb the spread of the virus.

Comparison with Private Sector Outcome

In a military context, the leader is also apt to confront ethical dilemmas of employee welfare while complying with the organizational protocol and hierarchy system. This applies equally to the leaders of organizations working in the private sector. In stern and informal settings, fundamental ethical considerations such as duty, loyalty, and the greater good remain prominent in decision-making processes (Cruz, 2020). In addition, both segments can have high media coverage during crises, and information released can associated with nationwide debates and scrutiny. This requires an open and efficient communication approach to addressing concerns, issues, and public perception.

Still, within the distinction of differences, the military’s private sector and chain of command diverge significantly in their accountability mechanisms and the legal framework. Unlike the military, where the principle of ‘command duress’ is embedded in the culture and failure to adhere to it is equivalent to being court-martialed, the private sector provides a more democratic approach to communication and decision-making.

Furthermore, both sectors have accountability, but oversight and consequences for skipping through established guidelines could be different. When it comes to the private sector, leaders may face legal challenges that can affect their situation related to the safety of workers and labor law besides crisis management and communication strategies. Such a difference underscores the need for subtle distinctions between organizational practices within a regulatory environment (Cruz, 2021). Thus, the media’s ethical dimension and sensitivities may show similarities between military and private sector environments. The knowledge of such differences is essential in developing logical crisis management and communication strategies whereby organizations can cope with challenges while maintaining ethical standards and observing the principles of regulation.


In conclusion, Captain Crozier’s move to do an end-run around the chain of command, essential in communicating the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, caused a dilemma of ethical and protocol breach. His strategy brought awareness and change, revealing the intricacy of military structure and communication. Appreciating these principles is vital in crisis management while upholding ethics and effective leadership that is justifiable in the military and private sectors.


Medium: Email

I hope this email finds you in the best health. I would like to spend a few minutes on the latest events concerning the USS Theodore Roosevelt, specifically, foccussing on lessons learned. The two critical lessons learned from Captain Crozier are upholding the chain of command and communication protocols.

Captain Crozier’s conduct aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt emphasized how vital these aspects of a chain of command are, i.e., following orders and having proper communication protocols, especially in critical situations (Toti, 2021). While Captain Crozier’s motives appear relatively altruistic, bypassing the chain of command and sharing secrets externally put operational security and morale in jeopardy. Therefore, this event emphasizes the importance of hierarchical structures and operations functioning alongside procedural guidelines to ensure order and effectiveness in naval operations.

Maintaining these protocols guarantees transparency, responsibility, and operational integrity, protecting the mission and the safety of personnel. Open and ongoing communication is vital. Reports indicate that Captain Crozier delayed reporting his seniors on how bad the situation was. He only tackled the issue in one letter written in panic once it was too late (Toti, 2021). Whether he did that out of perceived control or due to fear, it will always have the same end. Transparent communication from the onset would have avoided the rest of it and would have bloomed the timely help for the crew.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt incident highlights the vital need for adherence to chain of command, confidentiality, professionalism, and tone in communication practices. Transparency, responsibility, and proper channels are imperative for organizational effectiveness and discipline. Protecting confidential material ensures operational security and prevents leaks. External communications must consider their impact on morale and public perception while reflecting organizational values and professionalism.

Recommendations include comprehensive training on communication protocols and ethics, policy reviews, and fostering a culture of open communication and accountability. Implementing these measures fosters trust and confidence within the organization, reinforcing the importance of effective communication in organizational success and crisis management.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.



Commanding Officer


Asencio, H., Byrne, T., & Mujkic, E. (2017). Ethics training for US military leaders: Challenging the conventional approach. Public Integrity19(5), 415-428. Retrieved from: 

Boot, M. (2020). Acting Navy secretary fired and then insulted a Navy hero. He must go. The Washington Post. Retrieved from:

Brewster, R. K., Chan, K., Allen, H., Sundermann, A., Keane, S., & Boles, C. (2022). Future directions of infection control and risk management on military vessels: a narrative review. Journal of Public Health and Emergency6.

Cruz, M. L. (2020). Saying the quiet parts out loud: Guåhan, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, and the role of journalism in reproducing colonization in the time of Covid-19. AAPI Nexus: Policy, Practice and Community17(1-2).

Cruz, M. L. (2021). News media complicity in the reproduction of settler colonial ideology in Guåhan. Rhetoric, Politics & Culture1(2), 71-95.

Lamothe, D., Sonne, P., & Kim, S. M. (2020). Acting Navy secretary resigns after insulting aircraft carrier’s ousted captain. The Washington Post.

Toti, W. (2021, April 14). 13 lessons from the Crozier controversy. Defense One.

Zeni, T. A., Buckley, M. R., Mumford, M. D., & Griffith, J. A. (2016). Making “sense” of ethical decision making. The Leadership Quarterly27(6), 838-855