Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly made an unhinged speech to the crew members of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, in which he lashed out at former Capt. Brett E. Crozier and told sailors to stop complaining and do their jobs.
Modly fired Crozier on April 2, two days after the San Francisco Chronicle published a leaked copy of a memo written by Crozier, in which he warned his superiors that sailors aboard the aircraft carrier would die of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) unless about 90% of the crew were moved into individual quarantine. Crozier has since tested positive for the coronavirus.
“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 Theodore Roosevelt’s crew on April 5. “The alternative is that he did this on purpose. And that's a serious violation of the UCMJ which you are all familiar with.”
Modly's spokespeople did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Task & Purpose on Monday.
Modly also chastised the Theodore Roosevelt’s crew for cheering Crozier when he left the ship, claiming the former commanding officer’s memo caused concern among residents of Guam, where the ship is currently docked.
“So think about that when you cheer the man of the ship who exposed you to that,” Moldy said. “I understand you love the guy. It's good that you love him. But you're not required to love him.”
"Crew of the Teddy Roosevelt, you are under no obligation to love your leadership, only respect it," he continued. "You are under no obligation to like your job, only to do it. You are under no obligation, you are under no obligation to expect anything from your leaders other than they will treat you fairly and put the mission of the ship first."
The acting navy secretary took aim at the Theodore Roosevelt’s crew, telling them their only concern right now should be how they can help each other during the crisis.
“That's your duty,” Modly said. “Not to complain. Everyone is scared about this thing. And let me tell ya something, if this ship was in combat and there were hypersonic missiles coming in at it, you'd be pretty fucking scared too. But you do your jobs. And that's what I expect you to. And that's what I expect every officer on this ship to do, is to do your jobs.”
Modly said he was incensed that Crozier wrote in his memo that the United States is not at war. In fact, China is to blame for the current coronavirus pandemic because it hid the scope of the problem, said Modly, who also accused the Chinese of not being as transparent as the Navy.
On April 2, Modly told reporters that he had no information that Crozier provided his memo to the San Francisco Chronicle. But in his speech to the Theodore Roosevelt’s crew, Modly accused Crozier of believing the media was part of his chain of command.
He warned sailors that under no circumstances should they talk to the media, saying all journalists are biased and they will use any information to embarrass the Navy and “to embarrass you.”
“Imagine if every other CO also believed the media was a proper channel to air grievances with their chain of command under difficult circumstances,” Modly said. “We would no longer have a Navy. Not long after that, we would no longer have a country.”
The acting Navy secretary also blamed Crozier for creating a “big controversy in Washington, D.C.” that has had Modly’s life difficult by creating the narrative of “a martyr CO, who wasn't getting the help he needed.”
“If I could offer you a glimpse of the level of hatred and pure evil that has been thrown my way, my family's way over this decision, I would,” Modly said. “But it doesn't matter. It's not about me. The former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden suggested just yesterday that my decision was criminal. I assure you that it was not. Because I understand the facts and those facts show that what your captain did was very, very wrong in a moment when we expected him to be the calming force on a turbulent sea.”
You can listen to a portion of Modly's speech below, which was provided to Task & Purpose on Monday:
Read Modly's full remarks below: