Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly resigned on Tuesday as pressure mounted on President Donald Trump's administration to take action in the wake of Modly's profanity-laced tirade to the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt.
Modly submitted his resignation letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday morning.
‘This morning I accepted Secretary Modly’s resignation,' Esper said in a statement. 'He resigned of his own accord, putting the Navy and the sailors above self so that the USS Theodore Roosevelt, and the Navy as an institution can move forward.'
In an effort to contain the fallout from Modly's action, Esper emphasized the health and safety of the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt come above all.
He noted that his three priorities are: 'First, protect our people, which means putting the health, safety, and welfare of the USS Theodore Roosevelt’s crew first; Second, maintain the war fighting readiness of the U.S. military, which means getting the Roosevelt back to sea, and on patrol, as soon as safely possible, and third, fully supporting the whole of government/whole of nation response to the coronavirus.’
Esper taped Acting Undersecretary of the Army, James McPherson, to succeed Modly as acting secretary of the Navy until a replacement can be nominated. He noted he spoke to President Trump after he accepted Modly's resignation to update him on the situation.
McPherson is a retired rear admiral and was the former judge advocate general of the Navy. Before his career in the Navy, he was a military policeman in the United States Army.
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly resignedTuesday as lawmakers pressured President Donald Trump to take action
Acting Under Secretary of the Army James McPherson, left, (seen with National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley) will be the new acting secretary of the Navy
Captain Brett Crozier washing dishes last Thanksgiving in the scullery while the USS Theodore Roosevelt was underway in Pacific so junior crew members could get time for holiday meal
Modly's resignation came amid mounting criticism of his handling of the coronavirus outbreak on one of the Navy's air craft carriers. Several Democratic lawmakers had called for his head.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi was one that said Modly should resign or be removed from office as was the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Navy.
'Acting Secretary Modly’s actions and words demonstrate his failure to prioritize the force protection of our troops. He showed a serious lack of the sound judgment and strong leadership needed during this time. Acting Secretary Modly must be removed from his position or resign,' she said in a statement.
'I no longer have confidence in Acting Secretary Modly's leadership of the Navy and believe he should be removed from his position,' said Congressman Adam Smith, the Democrat from Washington who chairs the armed services panel.
Several lawmakers were furious when Modly relieved Captain Brett Crozier of his command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt after a letter the captain wrote berating the Navy for its handling of a coronavirus outbreak on the ship went public.
But that fury reached the boiling point after Modly flew 8,000 miles to Guam over the weekend to address the crew of naval aircraft carrier, which was docked there so sailors could be treated for virus.
In a 15-minute speech, blasted over the ship's PA system, Modly went on a tirade against Crozier, calling him 'naive' and 'stupid' for writing something that ended up being leaked to the media.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Rep. Adam Smith, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, demanded President Donald Trump fire his acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly issued the apology statement above on Monday evening after President Trump said he may step in to settle the situation
Modly's remarks imploded after they were made public. Defense Secretary Mark Esper ordered him to apologize, CNN reported, and President Trump indicated he was going to step in and settle the situation.
Modly did offer an apology but it didn't save his job.
'I want to apologize for my recent comments to the crew of the TR,' he said in a statement late Monday evening. 'Let me be clear, I do not think Captain Brett Crozier is naive or 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 of his ship,' he added.
'I apologize for any confusion this choice of words may have caused. I also want to apologize directly to Captain Crozier, his family, and the entire crew of the Theodore Roosevelt for any pain my remarks may have caused,' Modly said.
In a scathing memo to Navy officials, Crozier pleaded to be able to take the Roosevelt to dock to try and contain the growing out break of coronavirus on the ship.
'We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die,' Crozier wrote in the four-page missive.
Several people - including lawmakers and his sailors alike - hailed him as a hero for his words. His crew applauded him as he descended the gang plank of the ship after Modly removed him from command.
As of Tuesday, 230 crew members of the Roosevelt had tested positive for the coronavirus, according to Navy officials. There are over 5,000 sailors on board.
President Trump acknowledged Modly used 'tough language' when he addressed the sailors and said he may wade into in the situation.
President Trump said Captain Brett Crozier made a mistake when he sent a letter decrying the Navy's response to a coronavirus outbreak on the USS Theodore Roosevelt but said he shouldn't have his career destroyed for 'having a bad day'
'Believe it or not, I am good at settling arguments. I'm good at settling these arguments. So I may look into it in great detail, in detail. I'll be able to figure out very fast,' the president said at his daily press briefing on Monday.
But Trump also said Crozier shouldn't have sent the memo. He added, however, that the captain had a great career prior to the incident and shouldn't have that destroyed for 'having a bad day.'
'With all of that said, his career prior to that was very good. So I'm going to get involved and see exactly was going on. I don't want to destroy somebody for having a bad day,' the president said.
'He shouldn't be writing letters like that. But it happens. Sometimes I'll write a letter that I'll say I wish I didn't send it. Not too often but it happens,' Trump said.
When pressed, President Trump declined to say what he may do for Crozier but said he would speak to Modly and Esper about it.
'The only thing that has played right up here with me is that I looked at his record,' Trump said, pointing to his head as he talked about Crozier. 'He's been an outstanding person. If he wasn't, I wouldn't even be talking about this. He's been an outstanding person. He's had a very exemplary military career.'
The president then went on to praise Crozier's military record: 'He started off as a helicopter pilot. They called him chopper. He was a great helicopter pilot. Takes tremendous skill. Then he went to F-16s or f-18's and he was tremendous pilot and then he was very smart, he studied nuclear energy and he was fantastic and very few people have the aptitude, that they have the mentality to do that. Nuclear energy is very complex, it's very hard, very few people can do it. And he did it well.'
Trump repeated that the captain merely made 'a mistake' in sending the missive and indicated Crozier shouldn't have to pay for it with his military career.
'He made a mistake. He made a mistake. And maybe we are going to make that mistake not destroy his life,' he said.
Pressure is increasing on President Donald Trump to take action against his acting secretary of the Navy
Thomas Modly, President Trump's acting Navy secretary, told sailors on the USS Theodore Roosevelt that their fired captain was 'naive' and 'stupid'
Modly, in his speech to the crew of the Roosevelt, blasted the captain for going outside the chain of command.
'If he didn't think, in my opinion, that this information wasn't going to get out into the public, in this day and information age we live in, then he was either A) too naïve or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this. The alternative is that he did this on purpose,' the navy secretary said in remarks obtained by the Daily Caller.
After Modly called Crozier 'naive,' a person on the ship is heard shouting 'shut the f*** up,' on an audio recording of the address.
Modly originally defended his remarks.
'I have not listened to a recording of my remarks since speaking to the crew so I cannot verify if the transcript is accurate. The spoken words were from the heart, and meant for them. I stand by every word I said, even, regrettably any profanity that may have been used for emphasis. Anyone who has ever served on a Navy ship would understand. I ask, but don't expect, that people would read them in their entirety,' he said in a statement after the speech leaked.
A handout photo made available by the US Navy shows medical staff taking a swab sample for COVID-19 testing aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt at Apra Harbor, Guam
Captain Brett Crozier was relieved of his duties after a memo he wrote complaining the Navy wasn't doing enough to help with a coronavirus outbreak on his ship went viral
Acting Navy Secretary Tom Modly, seen with President Donald Trump at the December Army-Navy game, said he fired the captain because he thought Trump would want him to
Modly also used his speech to the crew to attack the media for printing Crozier's memo.
'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,' he noted in his remarks. 'You can jump the chain of command if you want and take the consequences, you can disobey the chain of command and take the consequences, but there is no, no situation where you go to the media, because the media has an agenda, and the agenda that they have depends on which side of the political aisle they sit. 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.'
He then went on to complain about the hate being levied at him for firing the 'hero' captain, as Crozier is being referred to by supporters online.
'I cannot control or attempt to change whatever anger you have with me for relieving your beloved CO. If I could offer you a glimpse of the level of hatred and pure evil that has been thrown my way, my family's way and they are taking care of people on the shore who are busting their asses to get them off this ship. They aren't taking shots at them. They're asking how can we help them,' Modly said.
In his 15 minutes of remarks, Modly lectured the crew to do their duty and stop complaining even as he complained about his treatment after his decision to relieve Crozier.
'I'm gonna give ya little bit of advice to make this important – and often difficult – job far easier on yourselves. My best advice to you is don't ever be – don't ever worry – about being loved for what you do. Rather, love the country you are asked to defend. Love the constitution you pledged your life to protect. And, most importantly, love the people you are ordered to lead. Make sure they eat before you do, care about their families as much as your own, be invested in their success far more than your own accomplishments. Nurture their careers more than you pursue your own advancement and value their lives to the point that you will always consider their safety in every single decision you make,' he said.
He told the crew: 'You are under no obligation to love your leadership, only respect it. You are under no obligation to like your job, only to do it. You are under no obligation, you are under no obligation to expect anything from your leaders other than they will treat you fairly and put the mission of the ship first.'
Then he went on: 'That's your duty. Not to complain. Everyone is scared about this thing. And let me tell ya something, if this ship was in combat and there were hypersonic missiles coming in at it, you'd be pretty f***ing scared too. But you do your jobs. And that's what I expect you to. And that's what I expect every officer on this ship to do, is to do your jobs.'
Modly also brought up former Vice President Joe Biden, who said the decision to relieve Crozier was 'close to criminal.'
'It's not about me. The former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden suggested just yesterday that my decision was criminal. I assure you that it was not. Because I understand the facts and those facts show that what your captain did was very, very wrong in a moment when we expected him to be the calming force on a turbulent sea,' he told the crew, many of who have hailed Crozier a 'hero' for his actions.
'There was very little upside in this decision for me. You can believe that or not. I made a decision for the Navy I love, for the Navy I serve in and now serve for, and mostly for the sailors I am responsible for. Not just here but on nearly 300 other ships in the fleet. Your captain's actions had implications for them too. Imagine if every other CO also believed the media was a proper channel to air grievances with their chain of command under difficult circumstances. We would no longer have a Navy. Not long after that, we would no longer have a country,' Modly added.
In his 15 minutes of remarks, Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly lectured the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt to do their duty and stop complaining even as he complained about his treatment after his decision to relieve Crozier.
In this Nov. 15, 2019, photo U.S. Navy Capt. Brett Crozier, commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), addresses the crew
Many sailors on the Roosevelt praised Crozier for his actions and for being a leader when the sailors needed him.
'He had legitimate concerns about his sailors, asked for help in a respectful and honorable way, and then they relieved him of duty' one Roosevelt sailor told The Wall Street Journal.
'Seriously, that's crazy. If anything the guy deserves a promotion. That's the type of leadership they lack, but the type they need,' another said.
The acting Navy secretary defended his decision in an interview with The Washington Post, where he explained he fired Crozier because he thought that was what President Trump would want.
'I didn't want to get into a decision where the president would feel that he had to intervene because the Navy couldn't be decisive,' Modly said: 'If I were president, and I saw a commanding officer of a ship exercising such poor judgment, I would be asking why the leadership of the Navy wasn't taking action itself.'
He said he did not speak to anyone in the White House before he made his decision.
But Modly also recounted how his predecessor, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, 'lost his job because the Navy Department got crossways with the president' in the case of former Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher.
'I didn't want that to happen again,' Modly said.
And the president made it clear he agreed with the decision to terminate Crozier.
'I thought it was terrible, what he did, to write a letter. I mean, this isn't a class on literature. This is a captain of a massive ship that's nuclear powered. And he shouldn't be talking that way in a letter,' Trump said.
Captain Brett Crozier was relieved of his command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt on Thursday, two days after his letter calling to evacuate the aircraft carrier was leaked in the media. Video posted to social media on Thursday shows hundreds of sailors aboard the ship bidding a raucous farewell and saluting their fired commander
Trump went against Spencer's recommendation and reversed a demotion Gallagher received from the Navy.
Gallagher was accused of multiple offenses during his final deployment to Iraq, including the murder of a prisoner of war. Ultimately, a court only convicted him on one count. He was sentenced to time served and demoted.
Modly recounted that situation in his interview with The Post.
'I put myself in the president's shoes. I considered how the president felt like he needed to get involved in Navy decisions [in the Gallagher case and the Spencer firing]. I didn't want that to happen again,' he said.
Modly is a graduate of the Naval Academy who spent seven years as a U.S. Navy officer before working in the private sector. He's served as acting secretary of the Navy since November.
The Pentagon failed to provide DailyMail.com with the rank Modly held when he left the Navy or to confirm that he left with an honorable discharge.
In early March, the USS Theodore Roosevelt made a stop in Vietnam. As it headed back out to sea, crew members began falling ill to the coronavirus with the highly contagious disease spreading rapidly throughout the ship.
The numbers rose from from three initially to more than 150 sailors affected.
In his memo, Crozier complained about the limitations of the coronavirus test, saying seven who tested negative displayed symptoms of infection one to three days later.
He also pointed out the ship's close quarters made it unable to comply with the recommended social distancing guidelines.
He wrote that bunk space, shared meals and bathroom spaces are 'most conducive' to spreading the disease.
'With the exceptions of a handful of senior officer staterooms, none of the berthing onboard a warship is appropriate for quarantine or isolation,' he noted.
After the memo went viral, Crozier was relieved of command.
Modly defended his decision, saying he had his chief of staff reach out to Crozier directly after he learned of the outbreak on the ship.
'That message and all the contents of that message was perfectly fine for him to send to people in his chain of command in a confidential way so they could get acting on it. He, in fact, could have given it to me, either my chief of staff, or to me, as I asked him to do when I first reached out to him on the ship when we first found out that there were COVID cases here,' he told the Roosevelt sailors in his speech.
The outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt (seen docked in Guam on March 27) was first reported days after the ship concluded a historic five-day visit to Vietnam from March 4-9. Officials say they are still working to trace the origins of the outbreak
Sailors say morale quickly plummeted after the first COVID-19 cases were reported on the vessel, which provided the perfect environment for an outbreak given its close quarters. The ship is seen docked in Guam on March 27
And he told The Washington Post he was shocked when the missive from Crozier, which was sent to an email distribution list Modly wasn't on, went public.
'I was flabbergasted,' Modly said. 'My only conclusion was, 'he's panicking.' It was so out of character.'
Officials say they are still working to trace the origins of the outbreak on the ship and have not positively determined whether it began in Vietnam.
Data from the Vietnamese Ministry of Health suggests that the number of COVID-19 cases in Vietnam doubled during the five days the Roosevelt was docked at Tien Sa port in Da Nang.
But sailors were largely unfazed by the virus as they went on shore leave in Da Nang, even as the number of cases across the world skyrocketed.
Two Naval Academy classmates of Crozier who remain close to the family revealed that he had tested positive for COVID-19 to The New York Times on Sunday.
The classmates said Crozier began to show symptoms of the disease before he was relieved of his command.
A spokesperson for the Navy told the Times on Sunday that the captain has been reassigned to the headquarters of the Naval Air Forces Pacific command in San Diego.
Before resuming his duties, however, Crozier must complete a quarantine period.
News of Crozier's diagnosis comes on the heels of a report claiming that the top US military commander and the most senior naval officer were opposed to Crozier's dismissal but were overruled by the Trump administration.
General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Admiral Michael Gilday, the chief of naval operations, believed that the Navy should have allowed an investigation into the letter written by Crozier to run its course.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Sunday backed Modly's decision to fire Crozier
Defense Secretary Mark Esper initially sided with the officers, according to The Washington Post.
Esper on Sunday defended Modly's decision to fire Crozier.
'I think acting Secretary Modly made a very tough decision - a decision that I support,' Esper told CNN on Sunday.
'It was based on his view that he had lost faith and confidence in the captain based on his actions.
'It's just another example (of) how we hold leaders accountable for their actions.'
Esper was asked if the Trump administration moved too quickly to fire Crozier instead of allowing the military to complete its probe into the matter.
The defense secretary replied that it was 'not unheard of' for the Navy to fire a senior officer before an internal investigation is complete.
'All the services at times relieve commanders without the benefit of an investigation up front because they have lost confidence in them,' Esper said.
'It's certainly not unique to the Navy.
'The Navy has a culture of swiftly and decisively removing captains if they lose confidence in them.'
READ NAVY SECRETARY MODLY'S FULL SPEECH TO THE CREW OF THE TEDDY ROOSEVELT
When I first hear you had COVID cases on here, I was actually planning on being here last Tuesday after I went to see the Mercy off in Los Angeles. So I want you to know that no one in my level has been ignoring the situation here from the very beginning.
I reached out to your CO through my chief of staff very, very early on in this crisis. On Sunday, I told him that I wanted to come out to the ship and if it would be OK or if it would be too disruptive.
I told him that because I wanted to be able to help, if there was anything else he needed as this massive effort was under way, to get you guys healthy and clean and safe.
He waved me off. He said he felt like things were under control. He had been concerned a day or so before that things weren’t moving quickly but things… He still wanted to get more beds. But he didn’t think it was necessary. He also talked to my chief of staff and emailed back and forth with him.
On Sunday night he sent that email and that email went out to a broad audience of people. I know that I mention that it was over 20. We believe it was forward to far more, even more than that.
And immediately it was picked up by the San Francisco Chronicle which published sensitive information about the material condition of a naval war ship.
If he didn’t think, in my opinion, 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 too naïve or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this. [A voice is heard saying loudly ‘What the f***?]
The alternative is that he did this on purpose, and that’s a serious violation of the Unitary Code of Military Justice which you are all familiar with.
That message and all the contents of that message was perfectly fine for him to send to people in his chain of command in a confidential way so that they could get acting on it.
He in fact could have given it to me, through my chief of staff, or to me, as I asked him to do when I first reached out to him on the ship when we first found out that there were COVID cases here.
He was a betrayal of trust with me, with his chain of command, with you, with the 800 to 1,000 people who, with your shipmates on shore right now, busting their asses every day to do what they need to do to convert what they do in a normal day to get you guys off of here, get you safe, get you healthy, get you clean and get you back on this ship where you are supposed to be.
It was betrayal and I can tell you one other thing. Because he did that, he put it in the public form and it’s now become a big controversy in Washington D.C. and across the country, about a martyr CO who wasn’t getting the help he needed and therefore had to go through the chain of command, a chain of command which includes the media.
And I’m gonna tell you something, all of you, there is never a situation where you should consider the media as a part of your chain of command.
You can jump the chain of command if you want and take the consequences, you can disobey the chain of command and take the consequences, but there is no, no situation where you go to the media, because the media has an agenda, and the agenda that they have depends on which side of the political aisle they sit.
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.
While you’re out here dealing with something that this country hasn’t had to deal with in over 100 years, and the world hasn’t ever dealt with anything like this on this scale.
The American people believe in you and they think that of all the people in the world that can keep their s**t together in something like this, it’s the United States Navy and our sailors.
And they’re stressed. They may be stressed and they may be tired. They may be scared but they’re keeping their s**t together and they’re taking care of each other and they’re taking care of the people on the shore who are busting their a** to get people off this ship.
They’re not taking shots at them. They’re asking how can we help them, what can we do. ‘How can I help the E-3 that works for me? I’m an E-4. I’m concerned. What do I do to help the E-2s and E-3s om this ship?’
That’s your duty. Not to complain.
Everyone’s scared about this thing, and let me tell you something. If this ship was in combat and there were hypersonic missiles coming at it, you’d be pretty f***ing scared too. But you’d do your jobs. And that’s what I expect you to. And that’s what I expect every officer on this ship to do, is to do your jobs.
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.
But let me tell you something. The only reason we are dealing with this right now is a big authoritarian 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.
We don’t do that in the Navy. We are transparent with each other, using the proper channels with each other, and that’s what we are supposed to do and what we’re expected to do.
I’ve got your list of questions. I’ve very, very thankful to have gotten them. I know they’re all sincere. I don’t think there is an agenda in any of these. But there’s a lot of them and I’m gonna answer every single one of them.
But I’ve got to do it respectfully, and I’ve got to take some time so you understand all the nuances of the questions you are asking, and there’s a lot of them here.
So rather than answer them all today, I’m gonna taken them back with me to Washington and I’m going to answer them.
And let me say one other thing. Everything that I’m telling you right now, I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever throw you guys under the bus in Washington or anywhere else in the media, anywhere else.
And I don’t expect you ever to do that to your shipmates either, the ones on the shore right now who told me when Captain Crozier’s email made it to the San Francisco Chronicle after working 15-hour days, they were demoralized because they knew what they had bene doing for you guys since the 25th of March to get you guys what you need.
And the other thing you need to understand is that we are in Guam. It’s a U.S. territory but they have their own government and their own healthcare problems and they’re scared too, just like every other part of the world.
And the governor of Guam has stuck her neck out big time with their own population to say that she is willing to open up hotel rooms all over this country – or this state, this territory – so that sailors from the USS Teddy Roosevelt can go and be safe.
Because she believes that you all are her brothers and sisters, who are protecting this place for her citizens, so she’s willing to put all that at risk to take care of you guys.
And she told me today that when Captain Crozier’s letter came out to the public, she then had to deal with them, all her constituents, who are saying: ‘Holy c**p, what’s happening? We’re going to have 5,000 people with COVI in our city without proper health care and everything else’
So think about that when you cheer the man off the ship who exposed you to that.
I understand you love the guy. It’s good that you love the guy. But you’re not required to love him.
I want to share something with you that I read at the Navy Academy graduation in 2018. I said it to the graduating class, but I’ve expanded it a little.
As officers and sailors of the United States military, you are given tremendous responsibility to respect and protect those who are placed under your command.
The American people entrust you with their sons and daughters. And they place their security and the security of our nation in your hands.
Do not expect to be loved by everyone for this, even though it may happen. As Secretary Mattis, my former boss, was fond of saying to us who were so honoured to work for with in the Pentagon” he said your job is to protect the nation.
So I’m gonna give you a little bit of advice to make this important, and often difficult, job far easier on yourselves.
My best advice to you is don’t ever be, don’t every worry, about being loved for what you do.
Rather, love the country you are asked to defend. Love the constitution you pledge your life to protect. And most importantly, love the people you are ordered to lead.
Make sure they eat before you do, care about their families as much as your own, be invested in their success far more than your own accomplishments. Nurture their careers more than you pursue your own advancement and value their lives to the point that you will always consider their safety in every single decision you make.
It’s only through this level of servant-leadership that you will maximize and empower those you lead to meet the demands that will face us in this century.
And those demands are getting more complicated every day as we’re all learning. But it’s also going to incur incredible personal satisfaction during your time of service.
Crew of the Teddy Roosevelt, you are under no obligation to love your leadership, only to respect it. You are under no obligation to like your job, only to do it.
You are under no obligation – you are under no obligation to expect anything from your leaders other than they will treaty you fairly and put the mission of the ship first, because it is the mission sof the ship that matters.
You all know this, but in my view, your captain lost sight of this and he compromised critical information about your status intentionally to draw greater attention to your situation.
That was my judgment and I judged that it could not be tolerated of the commanding officer of a nuclear [powered] aircraft carrier.
This put you at great risk, even though I am certain that he never thought it would. I am certain that he loved you all, as he should, but he lost sight of why the Teddy Roosevelt exists and why fate brought you all here together in the middle of this COVID crisis.
Your nation back home is struggling. No-one expected this pandemic so we are all working our way through it.
Your fellow sailors in the states are volunteering, putting on uniforms and running into the fire in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and New Orleans. I’ve seen them: no fear, running right into COVID.
Nothing is easy. Is this for anything? But from the very beginning, we have been engaged from my level down to bring you the help that you need as fast as we possibly could. Understand it takes time to flex up for a crisis this unique.
Teddy Roosevelt has to stand strong as warriors, not weak like victims. The Teddy Roosevelt has to work its way through this with grace, not panic.
The Teddy Roosevelt has to demonstrate to the citizens back home that it has its act together and that it’s knocking down this virus just like it would knock down the Chinese or the North Koreans or the Russians if any of those nations were ever so stupid to mess with the ‘big stick’ because they thought she was vulnerable.
I cannot control or attempt to change whatever anger you have for me for relieving your beloved CO. If I could offer you a glimpse of the level of hatred and pure evil that has been thrown my way, my family’s way over this decision, I would. But it’s not about me.
The former vice-president of the United States, Joe Biden, suggested just yesterday that my decision was criminal. I assure you that it was not, because I understand the facts and what those facts show was that what your captain did was very, very wrong in a moment when we expected him to be the calming force on a turbulent sea.
There were very little upside in this decision for me. You can believe that or not.
I made a decision for the Navy I love, for the Navy I served in, and now serve for, and mostly for the sailors I am responsible for, not just here, but on nearly 300 other ships in the fleet.
Your captain’s actions had implications for them too.
Imagine if every other commanding officer also believed the media was a proper channel to air grievances with their chain of command under difficult circumstances: we would no longer have a Navy. Not long after that we would no longer have a country.
Still I understand that you may be angry with me for the rest of your lives. I guarantee that you won’t be along. Being angry is not your duty.
Your duty is to each other, to this ship, and to the nation that built it for you to protect them.
Even in the midst of unexpected crisis, it is the missions of this ship that matters. Our adversaries are watching and that is why we are here.
We will get you the help that you need. You have my personal word on it. The commanding officer had my personal word, from day one.
Whatever else you may think of me, I don’t go back on my word. And when it comes to the Teddy Roosevelt, whether you hate me or not, I will never, ever, ever, ever give up the ship. And neither should you.
Thanks for listening and I’ll get the detailed answers to your questions to you sometime this week.