- The US Navy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
- Modly's offer to step down comes shortly after he visited the USS Theodore Roosevelt on Monday in Guam, when here delivered an impassioned 15-minute speech to the crew slamming the ship's former captain, and lashing out at China and the US media.
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Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, who fired the aircraft carrier commander who pleaded with the Navy for drastic help with a coronavirus outbreak, reportedly offered to resign Tuesday, capping off weeks of controversy as the service struggles to contain the virus.
Modly's firing comes shortly after he visited the USS Theodore Roosevelt on Monday in Guam, when he lashed out at the ship's ex-commanding officer and at the media in an impassioned, expletive-laced 15-minute speech to its 4,800 service members that resembled some remarks by Trump. The leak of audio from that speech prompted some Democratic lawmakers to call for Modly to step down, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
In his speech, he gave the sailors his reasoning to remove the ship's commander, Capt. Brett Crozier, on Thursday amid the response to the outbreak. The commander had previously penned a four-page letter to his Navy colleagues, urging them for a "political solution" and "immediate and decisive action" as the ship dealt with a coronavirus outbreak.
Over 150 service members aboard the ship tested positive for the coronavirus as of Sunday, including Crozier.
The letter was eventually leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle , which published its contents on Tuesday. It was not immediately clear how the letter found its way to the newspaper, but the Defense Department said it launched an investigation. It was also unclear who the recipients of the letter were; however, Modly said there were over 20 people who it was addressed to.
Modly claimed in his speech that Crozier violated military protocols, circumventing the chain of command by sending the letter to a group of people. He added there was a "proper way" for Crozier to handle his concerns, including allowing his immediate supervisor, who was aboard his ship, to address them.
"I have no doubt in my mind that Capt. Crozier did what he thought was in the best interest and well-being of his crew," Modly said. "Unfortunately, it did the opposite."
Modly launched a firestorm of criticism after the contents of his private speech to the USS Theodore Roosevelt's crew were leaked to several media organizations , including Insider. In his speech, Modly outlined his reasons for the firing and expressed continued support for the crew.
"It was my opinion, that if he didn't think that information wasn't going to get out into the public, in this 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," Modly said. "The alternative is that he did this on purpose."
Modly, who once served in the US Navy as a helicopter pilot, described Crozier's actions as "a betrayal" and a "big controversy" that created "a martyr CO."
"I understand you love the guy. It's good that you love him," Modly told the crew in his speech. "But you're not required to love him."
In a statement on Monday, Modly said "the spoken words were from the heart, and meant for" the sailors aboard the ship.
"I stand by every word I said, even, regrettably any profanity that may have been used for emphasis," Modly said. "Anyone who has serve on a Navy ship would understand. I ask, but don't expect, that people read them in their entirety."
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