Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly has apologized for criticizing an aircraft carrier captain. Captain Brett Crozier pleaded for help with a Coronavirus outbreak on his ship.
The captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt wrote a letter asking for help with the outbreak. The Trump administration fired Crozier and Modly spoke to his crew to explain the decision.
Modly told the crew on Monday that Crozier was “too naive or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this.”
“It was a betrayal,” Modly said of Crozier’s letter.
“And I can tell you one other thing: because he did that he put it in the public’s forum and it is now a big controversy in Washington, D.C.”
Democrats strongly criticized Modly’s remark. Chairman Adam Smith of the House Armed Services Committee called for Modly to be fired, while Senator Sherrod Brown wanted an investigation.
This is not how we treat a commander looking out for the safety and health of his crew. Captain Crozier is a hero.
— Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) April 6, 2020
The acting Navy Secretary issued an apology on Tuesday.
“Let me be clear, I do not think Captain Brett Crozier is naïve nor stupid,” Modly said in a statement.
“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.”
“I also want to apologize directly to Captain Crozier, his family, and the entire crew of the Theodore Roosevelt for any pain my remarks may have caused,” he said.
Crozier’s letter was a cry for help following infections on board the aircraft carrier.
“We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die,” Crozier wrote.
“If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our sailors.”
Darragh Roche is a journalist covering U.S. politics and media