- Former acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly was angered by the videos of sailors cheering for their recently fired commander, according to The New York Times.
- Modly then flew to Guam to address the ship’s crew – a trip that reportedly cost over $US243,000.
- Modly was not the only Navy official vexed by the circumstances: Adm. Robert Burke, the vice chief of naval operations, told the ship’s senior medical officer that he had failed as a leader, two crew members told The Times.
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Former acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly was angered by the videos of sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt cheering for their recently fired commander, according to a New York Times report published Sunday.
Modly, who on April 2 fired the aircraft carrier’s commander, Capt. Brett Crozier, was angry after several videos showed crew members gathering to send off Crozier with applause and cheers, Navy officials told The Times. The videos were shared widely and have garnered support for Crozier, who was removed after his letter pleading with Navy leaders for help with a coronavirus outbreak on the ship was leaked to the press.
Modly then took a jet to fly to Guam to address the ship’s crew – a trip that reportedly cost over $US243,000. In a 15-minute profanity-laced speech delivered through the ship’s announcement system, Modly defended his decision to fire Crozier and expressed continued support for the crew. Audio of the speech was eventually leaked to news organisations.
“That’s your duty. Not to complain. Everyone’s scared about this thing,” Modly said. “But I’ll tell you something: If this ship was in combat and there were hypersonic missiles coming at it, you’d be pretty f—ing scared too. But you do your jobs. And that’s what I expect you to do.”
Modly was not the only Navy official vexed by the circumstances. Adm. Robert Burke, the vice chief of naval operations, told the ship’s senior medical officer that he had failed as a leader, two crew members told The Times.
Modly fired Crozier after the captain warned about the outbreak aboard his ship in a four-page letter that was sent to over 20 people and eventually leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Modly said Crozier violated military protocols, circumventing the chain of command by sending the letter to a group of people. Modly said that while he did not know how the letter got to the media, there was a “proper way” for Crozier to handle his concerns.
“If he didn’t think that information wasn’t going to get out to the public, in this information age that we live in, then he was A., too naïve or too stupid to be the commanding officer of a ship like this,” Modly said. “The alternate is that he did it on purpose.”
In his final message to the Navy, obtained by Navy Times, Modly said his comments were “a poor use of words.”
“You are justified in being angry with me about that,” Modly said. “There is no excuse, but perhaps a glimpse of understanding, and hopefully empathy.”
“But what’s done is done,” he added. “I can’t take it back, and frankly I don’t know if I walked back up that quarterdeck today if I wouldn’t have the same level of emotions that drove my delivery yesterday.”
Crozier has been in quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus. Over 580 of the Roosevelt’s 4,800 crew members had tested positive as of Sunday, according to the Navy. Nearly 4,000 of the crew members have evacuated the ship into Guam, where many are under quarantine in hotels.