Acting Navy Secretary Upbraids Aircraft Carrier’s Captain Over Ship’s Intercom

You can’t stifle American freedom of expression whether it be in the military or the civilian population.

Here is the Wall Street Journal perspective on the intercom blast delivered by the acting Navy Secretary in defense of his indefensible sacking of the ship’s Captain Brett Crozier.

Captain Crozier paid the  professinal price for standing by his troops when a number of them tested positive for Covid-19.  The military career of this Northern California native is probably finished.

The Captain will be vindicated and rewarded by the American public for his assertiveness and honesty.

Wall Street Journal

April 6, 2020

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly defended his decision to fire the commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt in remarks Monday to the aircraft carrier’s crew, saying Capt. Brett Crozier erred by writing and distributing a memo about a coronavirus outbreak and urging sailors to “do your jobs.”

Some crew members considered the remarks by the acting secretary, a civilian Navy official, to be inappropriate. “All of our jaws are on the floor right now. He just made the PR situation a billion times worse,” one sailor aboard the Roosevelt messaged to a family member after Mr. Modly’s comments.

Mr. Modly delivered the remarks over the public-address system of the vessel, which is docked in Guam as crew members undergo a quarantine because of the novel coronavirus outbreak. As of Monday, 173 of the approximately 5,000 members of the USS Roosevelt crew have tested positive.

Crozier V 4.6.2020

The remarks were tinged with profanity, according to a recording and descriptions by those on board, relatives and others, with Mr. Modly saying that sailors were expected to “keep their shit together and take care of each other.”

At another point, Mr. Modly, addressing fears over the virus, said: “If the ship was in combat and there were hypersonic missiles coming at it, you’d be pretty f—— scared too.”

Mr. Modly also told the crew not to speak to the media, which he said holds a political agenda. He told crew members that former Vice President Joe Biden was wrong Sunday in calling the decision to fire Capt. Crozier “close to criminal.”

Many crew members on the Roosevelt were critical of the Navy’s decision to fire Capt. Crozier, who drew cheers and applause from sailors as he walked off the ship’s gangplank last week for the last time. President Trump has backed the decision to fire the commander.

 

But Mr. Modly, referring to Capt. Crozier in his remarks Monday, said: “If he didn’t think, in my opinion, that this information wasn’t going to get out into the public, in this information age we live in, then he was either too naive or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this.”

“The alternative is he did this on purpose, which is a serious violation” of military law, he said.

In recordings of Mr. Modly remarks. sailors can be heard in the background jeering and shouting disapproval in response to Mr. Modly’s criticism of Capt. Crozier.

Mr. Modly, explaining the removal of the captain, cited the need to work through the Navy’s chain of command and to guard sensitive information. Capt. Crozier’s letter gave major adversaries like China an insight into a setback in operational readiness and caused unnecessary concern among sailors, he said.

Later Monday, Mr. Modly issued a statement about his remarks aboard the ship, saying he spoke from the heart and that his words were meant for the crew.

“I stand by every word I said, even, regrettably any profanity that may have been used for emphasis,” he said. “Anyone who has served on a Navy ship would understand.”

The Navy said Mr. Modly planned to visit the Roosevelt on Tuesday.

Write to Ben Kesling at benjamin.kesling@wsj.com and Lucy Craymer at Lucy.Craymer@wsj.com