Acting Secretary to the Navy Thomas Modly flew to Guam Monday and delivered a fiery speech to the sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt after their captain was fired over a leaked letter pleading for those infected with coronavirus.
The speech, a transcript of which was obtained by the Daily Caller, backs the decision to relieve Capt. Brett Crozier of his duties. Modly called the letter, which begged the Navy to send resources and help to at least 100 sailors on board who have the virus, a “betrayal of trust.”
“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, adding that the letter had “sensitive information” about the condition of the aircraft carrier.
“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.”
Here’s the speech in its entirety below, via a rushed transcript that may contain errors:
Modly Speech To Crew by Shelby Talcott on Scribd
Sailors could be heard cursing as Modly insulted their former captain, according to an audio portion of the speech was first published by Task & Purpose on Monday.
“What the fuck?” at least one person says according to the audio.
The acting Secretary to the Navy added that Crozier did not go through the proper channels. He repeatedly talked about breaking a “chain of command” and told the sailors that they should never go to the media for issues.
“And I’m gonna tell you something, all of you, there is never a situation where you should consider the media a part of your chain of command,” Modly said. “Because the media has an agenda and the agenda that they have depends on which side of the political aisle they sit, and I’m sorry that’s the way the country is now, but it’s the truth. And so they use it to divide us and use it to embarrass the Navy. They use it to embarrass you.”
Modly continued to criticize the media as well as Crozier throughout his speech. He said that “we would no longer have a Navy” if all other CO’s “also believed the media was a proper channel to air grievances with their Chain of Command under difficult circumstances.”
An anonymous Navy officer familiar with the situation told the Daily Caller that commanders immediately began to try and keep Modly’s speech from getting out.
“And the CAG (carrier air wing commander, the guy in charge of the aircraft on the carrier, an O-6) sent an email to the entire crew after the SECNAV was done saying ‘in order to publish a speech you need that person’s explicit permission and you don’t have the secant’s permission to publish what he just said, so if you recorded what he just said delete it immediately,'” the Navy officer said.
“That’s totally not how publishing speeches work, but it’s clear they quickly realized how poorly the speech was received and are trying to suppress it.”
Crozier’s letter, obtained by the SF Chronicle, read that America is “not at war” and that “Sailors do not need to die.” It described the ship’s “inherent limitations of space,” which prohibited the around 4,000-member crew from practicing social distancing. (RELATED: Fired Navy Captain Reportedly Tests Positive For Coronavirus)
“One of the things about his email that bothered me the most was saying that we are not at war, that we aren’t technically at war,” Modly told the sailors. “But let me tell ya something, the only reason we are dealing with this right now is a big authoritative regime called China was not forthcoming about what was happening with this virus and they put the world at risk to protect themselves and to protect their reputations.”
Modly ended the speech by saying that the crew was allowed to “be angry” with him “for the rest of your lives.” He promised that the crew, who has been stuck on board the ship filled with coronavirus positive sailors, would get the help that they need.
Modly did not back down regarding his speech in a statement given Monday. He appeared to only regret “any profanity that may have been used for emphasis.”
Statement from Secretary Modly on comments on TR: pic.twitter.com/V0EDj9my5J
— David B. Larter (@DavidLarter) April 6, 2020
The Navy did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller.
Note: An earlier version of this article referred to Modly as the Navy Secretary in the headline. The headline has been updated to indicate that Modly is the acting Secretary.