The acting secretary of the United States Navy, Thomas Modly has stepped down from his position following public backlash for his handling of Covid-19 outbreak on an aircraft carrier. The secretary invited sharp criticism after removing USS Theodore Roosevelt’s captain for calling for assistance in a letter that appeared on media.
Modly offered apologies on Monday for calling Captain Bret Crozier’s actions stupid and native. He submitted his resignation a day after the President Trump hinted on getting involved in the issue. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that Modly had resigned of his own accord.
He added that the health safety of the ship’s crew were a priority of Pentagon. Army Undersecretary James McPherson is expected to take charge after the resignation of Modly. Captain Crozier was fired last week and a video capturing his crew sending him off went viral in the country. The secretary flew 8,000 miles on Monday to the Pacific island of Guam where the carrier was docked and decried it crew for giving their captain applauds.
According to recordings leaked to United States media, Modly told the crew that what Crozier did was very, very wrong and amounted to a betrayal of trust with me, with his chain of command.”
“If he didn’t think that information was going to get out into the public… then he was a) too naive or too stupid to be the commanding officer of a ship like this,” the Navy Secretary said. “The alternative is he did it on purpose.”
Amid uproar from members of Congress, Modly issued an apology the same day saying: “I do not think Captain Brett Crozier is naive or stupid. I think and always believed him to be the opposite.”
On March 30, 2020 Crozier in a letter to defense officials pleaded for help as he informed them about the outbreak on his ship which is hosting over 4,000 crew.
“We are not at at war. Sailors do not need to die,” the captain said requesting for assistance.
President Trump on Tuesday said he had no role in the departure of secretary and describe his resignation as unselfish. At the same time, the president reiterated that the Captain made a mistake with the letter and said: “He didn’t have to be Ernest Hemingway.”
When questioned about the Monday incident by reporters, Trump responded: “You have two good gentlemen and they are arguing. I’m good at resolving arguments.” The president said he “heard very good things about the Capt. And didn’t want what happened to him for having a bad day but noted that the letter should not have been sent to the people not concerned with the matter.
Democratic lawmakers in Congress have called for an inquiry in the matter and firing of the Crozier. Joe Biden also spoke on the issue saying that the firing of Capt. was close to criminal and he should have been supported for saying what had to be said. More than 155 of the crew at carrier were diagnosed with the virus while over 1,000 sailors who have been tested negative are in self-quarantine in hotels in Guam.