Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly used bold language in rebuking the former captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt during a speech to the ship's crew on Monday, after making a special trip to Guam to deliver the message.
The subject of Modly's criticism was Capt. Brett Crozier, who was relieved of his command from the aircraft carrier last week after the media obtained a letter he wrote begging for officials to help his sailors as COVID-19 spread throughout the ship.
What are the details?
The Daily Caller first broke the story of the speech and released the transcript, showing that Modly told the crew that if Crozier "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. The alternative is that he did this on purpose."
Modly's speech was quickly leaked to the media in both text and audio formats.
According to audio of the speech obtained by Task & Purpose, the speech did not go over well — at least with some of crew. One person can be heard responding, "What the f***."
Capt. Crozier's letter made headlines, his firing made headlines, his crew cheering him as he left the ship made headlines, news that he subsequently tested positive for COVID-19 made headlines, and the reaction from President Donald Trump made headlines.
President Trump told the media in reaction to Crozier's dismissal, "He shouldn't be talking that way in a letter. I thought it was terrible what he did," Fox News reported.
Capt. Crozier had said in his letter to senior military officials, "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."
In response to that, Sec. Modly explained in his speech, "One of the things about his email that bothered me the most was saying that we are not at war, that we aren't technically at war. But let me tell ya something, the only reason we are dealing with this right now is a big authoritative regime called China was not forthcoming about what was happening with this virus and they put the world at risk to protect themselves and to protect their reputations."
"We don't do that in the Navy," he continued. "We are transparent with each other, using the proper channels and with each other."
Sec. Modly also disclosed to the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt that it was their shipmates "on the shore right now who told me when Captain Crozier's email made it to the San Francisco Chronicle after working 15 hour days — they were demoralized because they knew what they had been doing for you guys since the 25th of March to get you guys what you needed."
Yet, Modly acknowledged to the crew, "I understand you may be angry with me for the rest of your lives," but promised his word, "We will get you the help that you need."
After the speech was leaked to the media, Modly stood by his comments, releasing a statement that said, "I have not listened to a recording of my remarks since speaking to the crew so I cannot verify if the transcript is accurate. 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. Anyone who has served on a Navy ship would understand. I ask, but don't expect, that people read them in their entirety."