Navy Secretary says fired Navy captain was ‘too naive or too stupid to be commander’ in leaked speech transcript


Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly flew to Guam this morning to set the record straight with the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the Navy supercarrier that saw its commander relieved of command over a leaked email regarding coronavirus outbreaks aboard the ship.

The SECNAV spoke to the crew that formerly fell under command of Captain Brett Crozier, the skipper that used improper procedure to ask the Navy for help in dealing with sick sailors- an action that led to his communique being leaked.

Modly stressed that not only was he aware of the ship’s plight well before the email was leaked and that Crozier’s folly had resulted in unnecessary and potentially dangerous ramifications for the Navy.

“When I first heard you had COVID cases on here, I was actually planning on being here last Tuesday after I went to see the Mercy off in Los Angeles,” he said. “So I want you to know that no one in my level has been ignoring the situation here from the very beginning.”

Modly had reportedly requested to come aboard the TR (Theodore Roosevelt) but was “waved off.”

The following Sunday, Modly recounted, Crozier’s infamous email went out- and all Hell broke loose.

“That email went out to a broad audience of people,” he said. “I know that I mentioned that it is over twenty [people]. We believe that it was forwarded to fare more, even more than that.”

“Immediately, it was picked up by the San Francisco Chronicle,” he added,” which published sensitive information about the material condition of a Naval warship.”

For this, Modly stated, Crozier must have known there would be consequences for his misstep.

“If he [Crozier] didn’t think, in my opinion, that this information [the letter] 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. The alternative is that he did this on purpose,” Modly said. “That message and all the contents of that message was perfectly fine for him to send to people in his chain of command in a confidential way so they could get acting on it. [Crozier], in fact, could have given it to me, either my Chief of Staff or to me, as I asked him to do when I first reached out to him on the ship when we first found out that there were COVID cases here.”

Modly emphasized that while the crew of the TR cheered their former skipper on, he had ultimately made the wrong choice.

SECNAV went on further to state that while Guam is a US Territory, it has its own challenges with healthcare infrastructure and a contained space.

“The Governor of Guam has stuck her neck out big time with her own population to say that she is willing to open up hotel rooms all over this [territory] so that sailors from the USS Teddy Roosevelt can go and be safe,” he said.

“She told me today when Captain Crozier’s letter came out to the public she then had to deal with them,” he added. “All her constituents, who are saying, ‘Holy crap, what’s happening? We are going to have 5,000 people with COVID in our city without proper health care and everything else.’ So think about that when you cheer the man off the ship who exposed you to that. I understand you love the guy. It’s good that you love him. But you’re not required to love him.”

Modly stated that he will not throw the TR crew “under the bus,” and that they need to stand strong and treat the matter like the combat crew that they are.

“TR has to stand strong as warriors, not weak like victims,” he said. “The TR has to work its way through this with grace, not panic. The TR has to demonstrate to the citizens back home that it has its act together and that it is knocking down this virus just like it would knock down the Chinese, or the North Koreans or the Russians if any one of those nations were ever stupid enough to mess with the Big Stick because they thought she was vulnerable.”

Modly then drove home a stone-cold point that sailors have one job: to obey lawful orders within the scope of their pay grade and chain of command- no matter how they feel.

“I cannot control or attempt to change whatever anger you have with me for relieving your beloved CO,” he said. If I could offer you a glimpse of the level of hatred and pure evil that has has been thrown my way [and] my family’s [way]- and they are taking care of people on shore who are busting their ass to get them off this ship. They aren’t taking shots at them, they’re asking how we can help them.


‘What can we do? How can I help the E-3 that works for me? I’m an E-4, I’m concerned. What do I do to help the E-2s and E-3s on this ship?’

That’s your duty. Not to complain. Everyone’s scared about this thing. And let me tell you something- if this ship was in combat and there were hypersonic missiles coming at it, you’d be pretty f**king scared, too. But you do your jobs. And that’s what I expect you to do. And that’s what I expect every officer on this ship to do. [To] do your jobs.”

As he wrapped up, Modly reminded them one of Crozier’s comments in the email was shortsighted, and it stuck with him to the point that he had to bring the matter up.

“One of the things about [Crozier’s] email that bothered me the most was saying that we are not at war, that we aren’t technically at war,” he said. “But let me tell ya something, the only reason we are dealing with this right now is [because] a big, authoritarian regime called China was not forthcoming about what was happening with this virus and they put the world at risk to protect themselves and protect their reputations. We don’t do that in the Navy. We are transparent with each other, using proper channels and with each other. That’s what you’re supposed to do, and that’s what you’re expected to do.”

Modly Speech To Crew by Shelby Talcott on Scribd

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