KEY POINTS

  • Thomas Modly was recorded calling the ousted skipper stupid and naive
  • James McPherson has been tapped to be acting secretary
  • USS Roosevelt has 230 COVID-19 cases out of its 5000-person crew

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly resigned Tuesday after a leaked audio conversation  revealed that he called the former skipper of the USS Theodore Roosevelt stupid and naive while addressing the ship's crew. Captain Brett Crozier was relieved of command this week after it was insinuated that he purposely leaked a letter sent to the Pentagon into the public domain to draw attention to the spread of COVID-19 on his ship. 

Modly cited a breach of trust while removing the captain. After initially stating that he stood by his remarks to the crew, Modly appeared to reverse course on Monday night, apologizing to Captain Crozier, his family, and the U.S. Navy. According to CNN , Undersecretary of the Army, James McPherson, has been tapped to succeed Modly. 

Modly succeeded Richard Spencer in November 2019 in the wake of issues surrounding Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher. The departure of the Secretary of the Navy should not come as a surprise to anyone as cries for his departure had started coming in from the House Armed Services Committee. 

In this file US Navy handout photo an F/A-18F Super Hornet takes off from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt on March 18, 2020 in the Pacific Ocean In this file US Navy handout photo an F/A-18F Super Hornet takes off from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt on March 18, 2020 in the Pacific Ocean Photo: Navy Office of Information / Nicholas V. HUYNH

From a professional standpoint, officials at the Pentagon are said to have been split on whether to remove Captain Crozier of his command especially given the circumstances. As of Monday, 230 sailors have tested positive for the coronavirus on USS Theodore Roosevelt. The military has not said anything to indicate that Captain Crozier did leak his distress call.

Even though Captain Crozier was removed from command, he left in grand style to the cheers of his 5000 plus crew. 

A junior officer aboard the Roosevelt, speaking under conditions of anonymity, told International Business Times that the sailors and crew aboard ship feel betrayed, and it certainly wasn't by the Captain. The Navy is steeped in tradition, yet something has gone inherently wrong starting from the top. The current situation has a lot of us who have been in for many years rethinking our stance, and the only reason that we are still here is to make sure that the sailors under our watch are cared for, he said.