Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly addressed the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt on Monday morning and referred to the recently ousted former commander as “too naïve or too stupid” to command the aircraft carrier.
“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 of Capt. Brett Crozier.
“It was a betrayal. 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, DC,” Modly added.
The remarks were reportedly spoken over the aircraft carrier’s PA system Monday morning.
“So think about that when you cheer the man off the ship who exposed you to that,” Modly continued. “I understand you love the guy. It’s good that you love him. But you’re not required to love him.”
Crozier had written a letter to the Navy on Tuesday pleading for help in isolating his crew amid a coronavirus outbreak board the aircraft carrier. The letter was leaked to the media, and on Thursday, the Navy relieved him, citing “lost confidence in his ability to lead.”
Crozier’s four-page letter had urged superiors to grant him permission to dock the carrier at a port in Guam and quarantine the crew on land.
“This will require a political solution but it is the right thing to do,” Crozier wrote in the letter, which was reported by San Francisco Chronicle on Tuesday. “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.”
On Sunday, a New York Times report citing two colleagues of Crozier’s, had said he tested positive for coronavirus. Crozier reportedly began showing symptoms of the virus even before he was relieved of his command of the carrier on Thursday.