Navy Secretary Resigns After Calling USS Roosevelt Captain Stupid
Washington, DC – The acting Secretary of the Navy quit on Tuesday, a day after he called the recently-relieved captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt "too naive or too stupid" to be in charge of the aircraft carrier.
CNN reported on Tuesday afternoon that Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly had submitted his resignation.
Modly issued an apology for his remarks on Monday night but lawmakers immediately began calling for his resignation, according to Business Insider.
"Let me be clear, I do not think Captain Brett Crozier is naive nor stupid. I think, and always believed him to be the opposite," Modly said in a statement. "We pick our carrier commanding officers with great care. Captain Crozier is smart and passionate. I believe, precisely because he is not naive and stupid, that he sent his alarming email with the intention of getting it into the public domain in an effort to draw public attention to the situation on his ship. I apologize for any confusion this choice of words may have caused."
U.S. Navy Captain Brett Crozier was relieved of duty on the Roosevelt by Modly on April 2, after he bucked chain of command and sent a letter to multiple people in the Navy leadership pleading for the majority of his crew to be evacuated in light of the coronavirus pandemic, Business Insider reported.
Modly’s termination of Capt. Crozier infuriated the rank-and-file military and caused a firestorm of criticism on social media.
The acting Secretary of the Navy flew to Guam and personally addressed the crew of the Roosevelt over the ship’s public announcement system, Business Insider reported.
In video footage leaked all over the globe shortly after his speech ended, Modly told the crew of about 5,000 sailors that their former commander had been "either too naive or too stupid" to command the aircraft carrier "if he didn't think that information wasn't going to get out in the public, in this information age that we live in.”
"The alternative is that he did this on purpose," he added, according to Business Insider.
Modly gave a 15-minute, profanity-laced speech and accused the popular Capt. Crozier of “betrayal,” a crime worthy of court martial in the military and the talk greatly angered the sailors who had applauded their commander when he was kicked off the ship.
Capt. Crozier has since been diagnosed with coronavirus, CNN reported.
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), a marine veteran, called for a U.S. Department of Defense Inspector General investigation, Business Insider reported.
"Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly's remarks to the crew show that he is in no way fit to lead our Navy through this trying time. Secretary Esper should immediately fire him,” Navy veteran and U.S. Representative Elaine Luria (D-Virginia), a Navy veteran, said in a statement.
CNN reported that neither the Navy nor the Department of Defense had responded to requests for comment on Modly’s resignation.
But a U.S. official and a former senior military official told CNN that Undersecretary of the Army James McPherson had been tapped to replace Modly.
McPherson retired from the Navy as a rear admiral and was formerly the judge advocate general of the Navy.