Friday, 05 June, 2020

Acting US Navy secretary apologizes to carrier commander after rebuke

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Deanna Wagner | 07 April, 2020, 16:50

Crozier, who took command of the Theodore Roosevelt in November, had written a four-page letter describing a bleak situation aboard the carrier as more of his crew began falling ill.

"I want to apologize to the Navy for my recent comments to the crew of the TR, Let me be clear, I do not think Captain Brett Cozier is naive nor stupid".

In a profane, meandering 15-minute speech over the ship's 1MC public address system, the acting secretary chastised the crew for cheering Capt. Brett Crozier on his way out last week, blamed China for the novel coronavirus and lamented that Crozier's actions resulted in negative press coverage and controversy in Washington, D.C. "The alternate is that he did it on goal, and that's a serious violation of the uniform code of military justice, which you are all familiar with". It's good that you love him.

A sailor on board the ship told the Reuters news agency that Mr Modly's speech only angered the crew.

Modly may also be facing internal pressure in the Pentagon about his comments. "Captain Crozier is smart and passionate", Modly said.

Some 173 crew have tested positive so far, including Crozier himself, first reported by the New York Times based on accounts of two Naval Academy classmates who are close to Crozier and his family.

"I have asked Navy leaders to provide greater clarity on unit-level policies to prevent service members from getting and transmitting COVID-19 and support unit leaders in rapidly responding to outbreaks as they occur".

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The Pentagon leadership crisis over a U.S. aircraft carrier has intensified after the acting navy secretary called the ship's ousted captain "too naive or too stupid" to be in command.

President Donald Trump on Monday said he may get involved, agreeing that Modly's criticism of Crozier was "a rough statement". And the agenda that they have depends on which side of the political aisle they sit, and I'm sorry that's the way the country is right now, but it's the truth. "His decision to relieve Captain Crozier was at best an overreaction to the extraordinary steps the Captain took to protect his crew".

US officials verified the recording of Modly's speech heard by Reuters.

In his letter, Crozier said the crew had undertaken some measures to slow the virus' spread, including moving a small percentage of the crew off- ship, increasing cleaning of the ship and attempting social distancing wherever possible.

Speaking on the ship, Modly urged the crew to stop complaining about their predicament, which he said made the Navy look weak.

Thomas Modly launched the broadside during surprise remarks to the aircraft carrier's crew, transcripts and audio recordings of which were leaked to the media. "Even in an unexpected crisis, it is the mission of this ship that matters".

Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden said Modly "shot the messenger". "I guarantee that you won't be alone", Modly said. But aboard the Roosevelt, the acting navy secretary painted a more damning portrait of the sacked commander's alleged intentions. Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of CT, a Marine veteran, also called for Modly to be sacked over his remarks. "It's deeply disappointing that he would deliver a speech on board a USA aircraft carrier suggesting that Captain Crozier might be "stupid" and bashing the media for trying to report the truth".