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Ethical Decision-Making: Analysis of Captain Crozier’s Decision

Ethical decision making involves choosing an appropriate solution when presented with many deferent alternatives. Ethical decision making could be quite challenging. For instance, in the case of commander Crozier, choosing how to communicate high priority information that concerned the safety of the crew members presented the dilemma. This essay analyses the dilemma that the commander faced in March 2020 following the COVID-19 infection of the crew members. The essay addresses ethical decision making as applied in the private sector.


At the point of this decision, the COVID-19 pandemic was in its early stages. This fact implies that there was limited data to make the right decision for captain Crozier. Therefore, the captain had to decide whether to send the information through the chain of command and risk delaying any help or using a different channel and receiving help faster. Eventually, the captain decided that breaking the chain of command and communicating directly to the outside world would give his ship a faster response. According to Browne, Cohen & CrawFord (2020), the captain wrote a message indicating that the carrier required swift, decisive action to save the crew’s lives. The captain’s memo brought mixed reactions and concerns within the Navy leadership since the captain copied close to 30 people in the email.

Additionally, he ignored the chain of command, which was significant during a crisis. The Navy leadership emphasized that the captain did not consider that the information could get leaked before broadcasting it widely. Therefore, his decisions may be classified as unethical based on this argument.

Moreover, the captain chose to use a memorandum and address it through an unclassified email system. The use of memorandums is only limited to particular situations within the Navy (Cowden 2020). Therefore, using such a channel and the mode of transmission being unclassified portrays that the captain disobeyed the Naval policies and broke the protocols.

However, the captain focused on saving the lives of sailors. His message clearly shows his concern about the lives of the sailors and recognizes them as the main asset of the Navy. Through this argument, his actions could be considered ethical. According to Roblin (2020), Crozier put the lives of his crew members first. Even though he knew that breaking the navy protocols had consequences, he stood by his decision and was prepared to face them.

The Successes and Failures of the Captain’s Communication

Captain Crozier’s communication strategy yielded results. According to Cohn, Friend & Golby (2020), there had been close to 100 infected people by the time he sent the email. The first time he communicated to his superiors, they only evacuated the three positive cases. However, he was against this move since the spread of the pandemic was severe on the ship/ Therefore, his communication was necessary. Cohn, Friend & Golby (2020) Allude that the sailors were rescued and hailed Crozier as a hero following his communications strategy. Therefore, one can say that his persuasive approaches enabled the Navy to listen to his requests.

His communication strategy involved the application of persuasive language that would make his superiors respond soonest. For instance, using phrases like “We are not at war, Sailors do not need to die(Harkins, 2020 para. 3)” would necessitate significant actions from the Navy leadership.

The major failure of his communication was getting fired and the events that followed his stepping down. Following the leaked document to the press, the members of the Navy leadership termed the actions of Captain Crozier as poor decisions. The acting secretary, Modly, alluded that the letter led to a loss of trust and confidence in the leadership of the Navy (Ismay & Ziezulewicz, 2020). He emphasizes that the Militaries depend on the chain of command for proper communication, coordination and trust. Therefore, having broken the chain of command, captain Crozier creates an unpleasant situation within the Navy. This action led to the Navy leadership removing him from his position immediately. Therefore, the leadership had to spend more time and resources managing the department’s reputation rather than evacuating the crew members from the carrier. Moreover, following his dismissal, the crew Thus, considering this approach, the decision made by captain Crozier was a failure.

Ethical Decision-making in the Private Sector

I believe that the outcomes of the communication strategy used by Captain Crozier would have been the same in the private sector. The captain would still be fired and probably receive harsher consequences than the public sector. The private sector focuses on the business nature of the sector. Every business owner aims to attract more revenue (Reyes, 2021). Therefore, a decision that would tarnish their reputation and deprive them of the chance to earn more revenue would not have been welcome.

However, there would have been a positive repercussion within the private sector. Within the private sector, the employees are able to speak up and raise concerns in matters of unethical practices. For instance, Captain crozier would have been in a position to sue the organization and gain from a ruling that factors ethical guidelines of the organization.


In conclusion ethical decision making could be challenging. Captain Crozier was faced by an ethical dilemma that he was supposed to resolve by either waiting for his superiors to act on his requests or choosing his people’s loyalty. He prioritized the lives of the sailors and communicated to a wider group of recipients. Even though his actions may have led to crisis and loss of his job, his communication strategy created awareness and enabled the crew members to receive the needed assistance.


Browne, R., Cohen, Z., & CrawFord, J. (2020). Commander of aircraft carrier hit by coronavirus removed for ‘poor judgment’ after sounding alarm. CNN. Retrieved 21 January 2022, from

Cohn, L., Friend, A., & Golby, J. (2020). This is what was so unusual about the U.S. Navy making Captain Brett Crozier step down.. The Washington Post. Retrieved 21 January 2022, from

Cowden, A. (2020). The Crozier “Memo”: An Analysis. Rear Clear defense. Retrieved 21 January 2022, from

Harkins, G. (2020). ‘Sailors Do Not Need to Die’: Carrier Captain Pleads for Help as Virus Cases Surge. Retrieved 21 January 2022, from,said%20in%20a%20written%20statement.

Ismay, J., & Ziezulewicz, G. (2020). Acting navy secretary slams fired captain as “stupid.”. The New York Times Magazine.

Reyes, L. G. (2021). Philippine private sector response, strategies, and state-business relations toward economic recovery and growth post-COVID-19. Business and Politics, 1-18.

Roblin, S. (2020). Opinion | Penalizing Capt. Crozier for protecting his sailors from COVID-19 risks lives. NBC News. Retrieved 21 January 2022, from


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