Statement of Captain (Ret.) Larry Seaquist on Acting Navy Secretary Modley’s Address to the USS Teddy Roosevelt

“If he took his own advice he would apologize and resign today.  If he won’t, then Secretary Esper should immediately fire him.”

Seattle, WA — In a truly bizarre moment, acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modley addressed the sailors of the USS Teddy Roosevelt, about his decision to relieve Captain Brett Crozier of his command of the ship, in a rambling speech that caused sailors listening to the speech to react in shock.

The audio of the statement (heard here: https://soundcloud.com/paul-szoldra/acting-secnav-modley-criticizing-capt-crozier-to-sailors-onboard-uss-theodore-roosevelt) is met with one sailor asking, “What the [expletive]?!”

In response to the address, former commander of the USS Iowa, Captain (Ret.) Larry Seaquist of VoteVets released the following statement:

“According to Acting Secretary of the Navy, he was forced to fire the CO of USS Theodore Roosevelt when it became clear back in Washington that Captain Crozier had “panicked” and “cracked under pressure.”  Now it seems it was Mr. Modly who cracked under pressure, apparently from a White House angry that the Captain’s attempt to take care of this crew was making the President and his team look bad.  Mr. Modly didn’t stop with reaching down to fire Captain Crozier personally.  Apparently panicked by the wave of public disapproval, the Acting Secretary has again bypassed all the admirals in the operational chain of command.  Jumping over the heads of the new CO and the ship’s officers he spoke directly to the crew still aboard the ship in Guam.  

In a long, unhinged, and rambling rant he accused Captain Crozier of “betrayal,” attacked the Chinese, dipped into presidential politics by going after Joe Biden, and whined at some length about his own situation.

Bizarre and inappropriate as Mr. Modly’s actions may be, vets will recognize a second, bigger problem:  So far, the Navy chain of command has been silent, invisible.  That is also very wrong and very dangerous.  From George Washington on down, America’s military has been totally non-political, insulated by law and tradition from partisan politics. Captain Crozier put duty before career.  We need to see our flag officers follow his example. 

Ultimately, though, the Secretary – and the White House that is pushing him – continues to place their own image over the well-being of the crew, the integrity of our non-political chain of command, and the devotion to their duty that our active duty commanding officers deliver every day.  That’s wrong.  Every American needs to be confident that our civilian leaders are bringing as much professionalism to their high appointments as every American military man and woman brings to their duty every day.  When not dropping the f-bomb and misrepresenting what had happened, Mr. Modly told the crew to do their duty.  

If he took his own advice he would apologize and resign today.  If he won’t, then Secretary Esper should immediately fire him.”