Secretary of the US Navy, the United States Military Navy, Thomas Modly, has resigned. Defense Minister Mark Esper announced it on Tuesday, April 7.
"This morning I accepted Mr. Modly's resignation. He resigned himself (…) so that the Navy could move on », the minister tweeted, as reports of Modly's departure began to appear in the American press.
This morning I accepted Secretary Modly's resignation. With the approval of the President, I am appointing current… https://t.co/lFe8fSOIoq
Mr. Modly had been sharply criticized for his management of the crisis caused by the coronavirus contamination of the nuclear aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt. He dismissed the carrier's commander, Captain Brett Crozier, on Thursday who had sounded the alarm a few days earlier to have his ship evacuated in a letter with dramatic accents.
His letter had leaked to the press, and the evacuation of Theodore Roosevelt, initially refused by the military hierarchy, was then decided on the island of Guam, in the Pacific, where the aircraft carrier is docked. Mr. Modly went to Guam on Monday to defend his decision to dismiss Commander Crozier from his crew, who had cheered on his departure from the boat, filming videos widely shared on social media.
A resignation demanded by several elected members of the Congress
He went on board Theodore Roosevelt and in a speech which also leaked to the press, criticized Commander Crozier. "He was too stupid or too naive to command a ship like this"he said to the crew.
He also stressed in the 15-minute speech that the military should not trust the media, which he said was too biased. "Their bias depends on their political color"added Mr. Modly. "They are there to divide us".
The American media widely disseminated this speech, which provoked strong reactions in Congress, where several elected officials asked for the resignation of Mr. Modly. Mr. Esper, who first defended him, therefore finally accepted his resignation.
Mr. Modly's behavior "Was not worthy of that of a chief of the US Navy, particularly in times of crisis, and he wronged Commander Crozier, the sailors of Theodore Roosevelt, and the whole of the US Navy ", said Democrat Jack Reed, an influential member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, welcoming the decision by Mr. Esper.
"Mr. Modly's resignation is justified and deserved", Tweeted Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. "His derogatory remarks were totally unworthy of the office he held. Our sailors, our country and Commander Crozier deserve better ”.
"Restoring confidence and stability"
Esper has appointed the current deputy secretary of the army, Jim McPherson, as acting secretary to the Navy. Mr. McPherson is a former admiral who will know "Restore confidence and stability in the Navy during this difficult period", he said in a statement.
Esper stressed that no decision on the fate of Commander Crozier would be made until the conclusion of an ongoing investigation into the incident. "We must now prioritize the needs of the Navy, including the crew of the Teddy Roosevelt, and move on, all together", he concluded.