Sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt could be heard yelling expletives at Trump acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly while he attacked their former commander, Capt. Brett Crozier, who was fired last week for writing a letter warning Navy leadership of a COVID-19 outbreak on the aircraft carrier which was later leaked to the media, reports Task and Purpose.
In a speech delivered over the ship’s PA system on Monday, Modly told the crew that Crozier should have known that the letter urging immediate action to save his sailors would be made public and if he didn’t realize that, Modly said, he was either “too naïve or too stupid to be a commanding officer,” reports NY Magazine.
“If he didn’t think, in my opinion, that this information wasn’t going to get out to the public, in this day and information age that we live in, then he was either (a) too naïve or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this,” Modly said in a speech that was quickly leaked online. “The alternative is that he did this on purpose.”
In a recording of Modly remarks, sailors can be heard reacting to Modly’s insult.
“What the fuck?” one sailor appears to yell (around the 1:54 mark in the audio clip below).
“It was a betrayal of trust with me, with his chain of command, with you,” Modly tells the crew.
“He was just trying to help us!” someone shouts shortly after.
Modly issued a statement Monday defending his remarks: “I stand by every word I said, even, regrettable any profanity that may have been used for emphasis. Anyone who has served on a Navy ship would understand.”
“We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset: our Sailors,” Crozier wrote in a memo last week.
When Crozier left the USS Theodore Roosevelt Friday, the ship’s 4,000+ member crew gave him a wild ovation.
USS Theodore Roosevelt Service members share videos of their cheers for Capt. Brett Crozier as he disembarked the ship.
— ABC News (@ABC) April 3, 2020
President Trump attacked Crozier on Saturday shortly after he had reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, claiming he did something “terrible” when he wrote a letter to try to protect the sailors on his ship.
As of Monday, 173 of the ship’s crew have tested positive for coronavirus and 61% of the crew have been tested, according to a Navy official.
Approximately 2,000 have been evacuated from the ship and moved ashore to Guam.