An advanced US Navy warship is unable to sail because its commanding officer has refused to be vaccinated against Covid-19, according to a Pentagon court filing, creating a legal standoff which higher-ups have deemed a “manifest national security concern.”
The Defense Department is pressing a US district court in Florida to vacate an injunction which bars punishment for any sailors and Marines declining the vaccine. The rule means the military cannot fire the commander of an unidentified Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, which reportedly remains stuck in port over his reluctance to take the jab.
“With respect to [the] Navy Commander, the Navy has lost confidence in his ability to lead and will not deploy the warship with him in command,” the Pentagon said of the unvaxxed officer, insisting that the court order “effectively places a multi-billion-dollar guided missile destroyer out of commission.”
The CO also was not identified in the filing, but a response from his lawyer said the Pentagon’s argument “reeks of petty retaliation and contempt,” adding that the commander led the ship on operations for 300 days before a vaccine was available “with no operational impediment.”
The military, however, accuses the officer of exposing “dozens of his crew to Covid-19” after failing to test for the virus despite coming down with symptoms, and says even if he were to be vaccinated and again deemed “credible,” he could not continue to command “given the breach of the relationships with both his commanding officer and his subordinates.”
The injunction against penalties for those refusing immunizations stemmed from a case which argued that the sweeping Covid vaccine mandate violates soldiers’ religious liberties.
“Through much prayer and reflection, Plaintiffs have sought wisdom, understanding, and guidance on the proper decisions to make concerning these Covid-19 vaccines,” the lawsuit said, adding that “Plaintiffs have been convicted by the Holy Spirit that accepting any of the three currently available vaccines is against the teachings of Scripture and would be a sin.”
Though the suit is centered on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Pentagon claims the vaccine requirement is in line with the law, calling the injunction, “an extraordinary intrusion upon the inner workings of the military” – which is apparently still fixated on full-scale enforcement of the vax rule even as much of the US moves away from similar mandates.