Pentagon chief to ‘thoroughly review’ Navy inquiry into coronavirus-hit ship


FILE PHOTO: U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper gestures as he speaks during a joint news conference with Britain’s Secretary of State of Defence Ben Wallace after their meeting at Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., March 5, 2020. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper will “thoroughly review” the Navy’s preliminary inquiry into a coronavirus outbreak aboard the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt and then meet with Navy leadership to discuss the next steps, the Pentagon said on Friday.

In a statement, the Pentagon said Esper had received a verbal update from the acting Navy Secretary and Chief of Naval operations.

“After the Secretary receives a written copy of the completed inquiry, he intends to thoroughly review the report and will meet again with Navy leadership to discuss next steps,” the statement added.

U.S. officials have told Reuters that during the Friday meeting, the U.S. Navy recommended reinstating the fired captain of the coronavirus-stricken carrier, whose crew hailed him as a hero willing to risk his job to safeguard his sailors.

Reporting by Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart; editing by Diane Craft

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