Acting Navy Secretary Apologizes After Calling Fired USS Roosevelt Captain ‘Stupid’

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly is apologizing for his scathing remarks about recently relieved Navy Captain Brett Crozier.

Modly came under fire after his address to the crew of USS Theodore Roosevelt leaked. On Monday, CNN published the full transcript of Modly’s rant. Shortly after, he issued a statement of apology, specifically expressing regret for calling Crozier “naïve” and “stupid.”

“Let me be clear, I do not think Captain Brett Crozier is naïve 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. 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 apologize for any confusion this choice of words may have caused.”

He went on to apologize to Crozier and his family for “any pain my remarks may have caused.” He also noted his commitment to restoring the health of the USS Roosevelt.

“[Crozier and his family], and the entire Navy, have my full commitment that I will continue to help get the TR back to full health and back to sea where we can move forward beyond this unfortunate situation,” Modly said.

See Thomas’ full statement below:

Modly’s statement of apology follows the leaked audio of his remarks where he blasted Crozier for ringing the bell after multiple sailors fell ill on his ship.

According to the transcript, the audio captured Modly berating Crozier for his stance.

“If he didn’t think 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.”

Prior to Crozier being relieved, he had penned a letter to Navy officials expressing concern about the 4,000 crew members onboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sean Lynch/Handout via Reuters

At the time, multiple crew members had fallen ill — with what was believed to be the coronavirus — and Crozier had requested they be allowed to quarantine on land to avoid spreading the virus to other crew members.

“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.”

As of Sunday, at least 155 USS Theodore Roosevelt sailors tested positive for coronavirus.