WASHINGTON – Acting Secretary of the Navy disparaged former USS Captain Theodore Roosevelt, calling him “too naive or too stupid” to command the hit aircraft carrier COVID-19.
Acting Secretary of the Navy, Thomas Modly, who last week fired Captain Brett Crozier for sending a letter to Navy officials asking for urgent help before one of his sailors dies Coronavirus, made the remarks on April 5 to members of the Roosevelt crew. A defense official, who was not allowed to speak publicly, confirmed on Monday that a transcript of Modly’s remarks was accurate.
Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers are calling for wider testing on board ships. Several other ships, including the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, have seen sailors test positive for the disease, according to Defense and Capitol Hill sources not allowed to speak publicly.
Modly also berated the media, telling the sailors that all the journalists were biased and were trying to embarrass them. The San Francisco Chronicle first reported Crozier’s letter, which leaked after sending it to several naval officials. He fired Modzier, he told reporters last week after Crozier panicked and lost confidence in him.
Modly also said in her crew speech that Crozier violated military law by intentionally disclosing sensitive military information, which would subject him to a possible court martial.
Modly, in a statement, admitted to speaking to the crew and using vulgarity. He took responsibility for his speech but said he did not remember the details.
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“I have not listened to the recording of my remarks since I spoke to the crew, so I cannot verify that the transcript is accurate,” said Modly. “The words spoken came from the heart and meant to them. I stand by every word I said, even, unfortunately, any profanity that could have been used to emphasize it. Anyone who served on a Navy ship would understand. I ask, but don’t expect people to read them in their entirety. ”
Modly’s speech immediately caught fire from Capitol Hill.
“Based on the transcript I read, Secretary Modly’s comments were completely inappropriate and under the office of the Secretary of the Navy,” said Senator Tim Kaine, D-Va., Member of the Armed Services Committee. . “It is deeply disappointing that he is delivering a speech aboard an American aircraft carrier suggesting that Captain Crozier could be” stupid “and bashing the media for trying to expose the truth. These dedicated sailors deserve better from their leadership. “
More than 150 sailors among the 4,800 Roosevelt crew members tested positive for COVID-19. Crozier is one of them, according to the New York Times. The Navy tested 61% of the crew and evacuated nearly 2,000 of them, placing them in quarantine in Guam, where the ship is moored.
. The Roosevelt is the only ship affected by a deployed coronavirus – Guam is not its home port. The other ships did not leave their home port. The affected sailors from the other ships were isolated.
However, testing for COVID-19 has been limited to larger vessels, and the Navy does not know how many small vessels at sea could be affected, said Senator Richard Bluementhal, D-Conn. and also a member of the Armed Services Committee. The defense official agreed that testing is limited, but said the deployed ships had little or no contact with the outside world and were considered to be low risk.
Also on Monday, representative Jackie Speier, who chairs the Armed Services Committee staff panel, urged Defense Secretary Mark Esper for more protective equipment for the troops and for broader testing.
“It is essential to protect them during the execution of their mission, as well as to have the best test equipment available on as many sites and ships as possible, to ensure that our service members are tested quickly and that appropriate action is taken, ”Speier wrote to Esper. “I think the navy’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak on the USS Theodore Roosevelt was woefully inadequate to prevent further spread of the virus, endangering the lives of seafarers. “
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