- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Former acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly is still standing by his controversial decision to fire the captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier over his handling of a COVID-19 outbreak on board.

Mr. Modly resigned after he was widely criticized following a later address to the crew that was deemed disrespectful to the carrier’s now-former commander, Capt. Brett Crozier.

“Could I have done things better? Of course I could have, but none of us have the luxury of perfect vision — either foresign or hindsight,” he wrote in the February 2021 edition of Proceedings, the magazine of the U.S. Naval Institute.

The Roosevelt was ordered to Guam after dozens of crewmembers were diagnosed with COVID-19. Captain Crozier wanted most of the crew immediately taken to shore to prevent the spread of the virus. When the request was denied, he sent a letter to ten high-ranking Navy officers about the situation that was later leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle.  

In his essay, Mr. Modly acknowledged that Captain Crozier believed he was making the best decisions he could at the time. 

“In my view, he made a big mistake. Ultimately, that was my judgment to make as his most senior boss in the Department of the Navy,” Mr. Modly wrote. “It was my call. Not the media’s. Not Congress’. Not the retired generals or admirals who seem very comfortable enhancing their personal brands by second-guessing people in public office — a role they resented when they were on active duty and grappling with life-and-death decisions.”

Mr. Modly also stands by his decision to go to Guam after the firing and address the crew of the Roosevelt - who had cheered Captain Crozier as he left the carrier. 

“In the end, the biggest casualty of the decision I made regarding the [USS] Theodore Roosevelt was my tenure as acting secretary,” he wrote. “From my perspective, that was a small price to pay if the broader message I tried to convey to the crew about love, duty and courage sinks in with our entire Navy over time.”

• Mike Glenn can be reached at mglenn@washingtontimes.com.

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