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Navy secretary resigns

by Harvest Prude
Posted 4/08/20, 11:07 am

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly fired the captain of a coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier, calling him “too naive or too stupid” to have command in front of the crew. Modly resigned on Tuesday after issuing an apology. Defense Secretary Mark Esper appointed Army Undersecretary Jim McPherson to succeed Modly.

What sparked the dustup? After three USS Theodore Roosevelt crew members tested positive for COVID-19, Capt. Brett Crozier sent a memo on March 30 asking for 90 percent of the more than 4,000-person crew to leave and quarantine on shore for two weeks, as well as for more resources to fight the disease. After the letter leaked to the press, Modly fired Crozier, saying he undercut the Navy’s chain of command by sending the memo to more than 20 people. More than 230 people on the Roosevelt have tested positive for COVID-19 since late March, and nearly 3,000 sailors are disembarking to slow the spread.

Dig deeper: Read Crozier’s memo.

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Harvest Prude

Harvest is a political reporter for WORLD's Washington Bureau. She is a World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College graduate. Harvest resides in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter @HarvestPrude.

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  • AlanE
    Posted: Wed, 04/08/2020 11:19 am

    There seems to be more to this story than meets the eye. The details, as published in a variety of sources, don't add up. The US Navy isn't talking, but one reasonable explanation suggests that Crozier had tried regular avenues, but without avail (or at least nothing like what he'd hoped for and felt was needed under the circumstances). That led to what appears to be a purposely broadcasted appeal. If that's the case--and I don't know that it is--then Crozier's actions make sense. He paid a substantial price for them, but it's possible he saw no other choice short of consigning several members of his crew to a death sentence. Like a lot of other things, most of us will never know the full explanation, but this story obviously has more to it.

    Of the two, I'm pretty sure I'd rather have Brett Crozier than Thomas Modly as my next-door neighbor.

  • not silent
    Posted: Sat, 04/11/2020 09:09 am

    People I know who are current and former Navy wholeheartedly support Crozier.  They weren't personally involved, but the general feeling seems to be pretty much what you said: they believe he was willing to take the personal risk and go against regulations because he thought it was best for his crew.  I agree that this makes the most sense; but, even so, I am hesitant to judge anyone in this situation too harshly because I suspect this was a really hard situation for all involved.

  • WKSK
    Posted: Wed, 04/08/2020 12:16 pm

    Modly may have had cause to relieve Crozier, but his mistake was that he cut through too many layers of command to do it.

    Posted: Wed, 04/08/2020 05:04 pm

    What a mess.

    Husband is retired Navy. He doesn't have anything to add.

    I think people are right about not having all the info and the media doesn't either.

    Anyway, I'm sure they blame Trump.