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Acting Navy secretary resigns after controversial comments about ousted USS Roosevelt captain

Acting Secretary Thomas Modly told the crew Capt. Brett Crozier was either 'naive' or 'stupid'

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly has stepped down amid uproar over his lambasting of the ousted captain of the coronavirus-plagued USS Theodore Roosevelt as being either "naive" or "stupid" in a speech to the ship's crew.

What are the details?

Modly submitted his resignation Tuesday morning, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper confirmed, and will be replaced by current Army Undersecretary Jim McPherson.

Modly faced harsh criticism following the firing of USS Theodore Roosevelt Capt. Brett Crozier, who was punished after the media obtained an email he sent to senior military officials pleading for help and a plan for evacuating most of his crew as coronavirus was spreading through the ship last week.

On Monday, Modly flew to Guam, where the aircraft carrier is docked, and delivered a fiery, profanity-laced speech to the crew, wherein he condemned the actions of Crozier. The speech was leaked to the media, and Modly sought to clarify his remarks as backlash against him grew.

In a statement Monday evening, Modly said, "Let me be clear, I do not think Captain Brett Crozier is naive nor stupid. I think, and always believed him to be the opposite. We pick our carrier commanding officers with great care. Captain Crozier is smart and passionate," CNN reported.

"I believe, precisely because he is not naive and stupid, that he sent his alarming email with the intention of getting it into the public domain in an effort to draw public attention to the situation on his ship," Modly continued. "I apologize for any confusion this choice of words may have caused."

Capt. Crozier, while relieved from the command of his ship, remains in the Navy and has kept his rank. The New York Times reported that as of Sunday, Crozier remained quarantined in Guam after testing positive for COVID-19.

More than 400 crew members of the USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for coronavirus. When the number infected hit roughly 100, Capt. Crozier sent his email to officials saying, in part, "We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors."

One last thing…
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