- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 29, 2020

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Navy will conduct a legal investigation of circumstances surrounding the spread of the coronavirus aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, a move that effectively delays a decision on whether to reinstate the ship’s captain, two U.S. officials said Wednesday.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a decision not yet publicly announced.

The decision comes several days after Navy leaders met with Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to discuss the Navy’s recommendation that Capt. Brett Crozier be restored to command of the ship.

One official said the wider investigation is intended to last no longer than 30 days. Both officials said the intention is to look more closely at an array of issues related to the Roosevelt’s encounter with the virus and how decisions were made.

The Navy inquiry on which it based its recommendation to restore Crozier to command was headed by the vice chief of naval operations, Adm. Robert Burke, and has not been made public. Esper had been expected to decide whether to endorse the recommendation and the report after he met last Friday with Adm. Mike Gilday, the chief of naval operations, and James McPherson, the acting Navy secretary. But there apparently were additional questions that Esper and others felt needed further investigation.

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