Acting Navy secretary apologizes for scathing criticism of fired captain in speech to aircraft carrier crew

modly

  • Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly apologized for criticizing the former captain of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in remarks to the crew.
  • "I want to apologize to the Navy for my recent comments to the crew of the TR," Modly said in a statement.
  • "Let me be clear, I do not think Captain Brett Crozier is naïve nor stupid," he added. "I think, and always believed him to be the opposite. We pick our carrier commanding officers with great care. Captain Crozier is smart and passionate."
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In a reversal from a statement earlier in the day, Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly apologized for criticizing Capt. Brett Crozier, former commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, in remarks to the crew.

"I want to apologize to the Navy for my recent comments to the crew of the TR," Modly said in a statement.Advertisement

Crozier, who he relieved of duty last Thursday after a letter raising alarms about a worsening coronavirus outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt leaked to the media. Early Monday, a recording of a speech Modly delivered to the carrier's crew strongly criticizing the captain surfaced.

"The spoken words were from the heart," Modly said in a statement following the leak of the audio recording. "I stand by every word I said, even, regrettably any profanity that may have been used for emphasis. Anyone who has served on a Navy ship would understand."

Monday night, he backtracked, apologizing for his earlier remarks.
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"Let me be clear, I do not think Captain Brett Crozier is naïve nor stupid," he said. "I think, and always believed him to be the opposite. 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," Modly continued. "I apologize for any confusion this choice of words may have caused."
Brett Crozier Theodore Roosevelt
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"I also want to apologize directly to Captain Crozier, his family, and the entire crew of the Theodore Roosevelt for any pain my remarks may have caused," he said. "They, and the entire Navy, have my full commitment that I will continue to help get the TR back to full health and back to sea where we can move forward beyond this unfortunate situation."

Modly's remarks during his all-hands call for the Theodore Roosevelt drew criticism from Democratic lawmakers and sailors aboard the ship. During the 15-minute expletive-laced speech, he gave the sailors his reasoning behind the decision to relieve Crozier.

"It was my opinion, that if he didn't think that information wasn't going to get out into the public, in this information age that we live in, then he was either A: too naive, or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this," Modly said in the call. "The alternative is that he did this on purpose."Advertisement

"I understand you love the guy. It's good that you love him," Modly told the crew. "But you're not required to love him."

Modly was criticized and accused of being tone-deaf to the situation.

"Yeah, that was, uh ... It's almost like we got an ass-chewing. Almost," one person aboard the ship said in an audio clip. "And he kind of called us p---ies."Advertisement

"He was like, 'B----, I said what I said,'" a different person said.

More than 150 service members aboard the carrier have tested positive for the coronavirus. Crozier has also tested positive, The New York Times reported on Sunday. About 2,700 crew members are expected to be evacuated from the ship in the coming days to curb the coronavirus' spread.

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