The U.S. Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly has called the now-relieved commander of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, Capt. Brett E. Crozier, “stupid” in an address to the ship’s crew Monday morning.
Capt. Crozier was relieved by the Navy for writing a letter about the COVID-19 outbreak on the carrier which was later leaked to the press.
Modly visited the carrier which is currently pierside in the U.S. territory of Guam in the Pacific Ocean and addressed the crew via the ship’s internal loudspeaker system.
“If he didn’t think, in my opinion, that this information wasn’t going to get out into the public, in this day and 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 told the carrier’s crew. “The alternative is that he did this on purpose. And that’s a serious violation of the UCMJ [Uniform Code of Military Justice] which you are all familiar with.”
Modly later said in a statement that he stands by “every word” he said to the crew .
“The spoken words were from the heart, and meant for them. I stand by every word I said, even, regrettably any profanity that may have been used for emphasis,” Modly said in the statement. “Anyone who has served on a Navy ship would understand. I ask, but don’t expect, that people read them in their entirety.”
USS Theodore Roosevelt arrived in Guam on Mar. 27 for, what the Navy calls, a scheduled port visit. Prior to the port visit, three Sailors tested positive for COVID-19 aboard the carrier. According to the latest reports, the vessel currently has more than 150 COVID-19 cases.
San Fransisco Chronicle was first to report on the four-page letter by Capt. Brett Crozier in which he requested the Navy officials for resources to allow isolation of his entire crew and avoid possible deaths in a situation he described as quickly deteriorating.
The dismissal of Captain Brett Crozier was announced by Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly on April 2. According to the Acting Navy Secretary, Captain Crozier is relieved not because he wrote the letter and sent it up through the chain of command but because it was shared with at least 20 people before it was leaked in the media.
The secretary did not accuse Crozier of leaking the letter himself but said that the people Crozier shared the letter with included people ‘outside the chain of command’.