Navy Secretary officially resigns, capping bizarre 24-hour Theodore Roosevelt fiasco

Navy Secretary officially resigns, capping bizarre 24-hour Theodore Roosevelt fiasco

Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly has officially resigned, capping perhaps the most tumultuous 24-hour public relations fiasco the sea service has ever encountered.

Modly notified Secretary of Defense Mark Esper of his resignation Tuesday following a meeting between the two. Esper subsequently confirmed Modly’s resignation in an official statement.

“He resigned on his own accord, putting the Navy and the Sailors above self so that the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, and the Navy as an institution, can move forward,” Esper said in an official statement.

“His care for the Sailors was genuine. Secretary Modly served the nation for many years, both in and out of uniform. I have the deepest respect for anyone who serves our country, and who places the greater good above all else. … I wish him all the best.”

Esper has appointed Acting United States Under Secretary of the Army James McPherson as the new acting secretary of the Navy. McPherson was confirmed as the Army’s number two official just 15 days ago. He becomes the third Army official tapped by Esper in recent months to fill top roles.

Modly’s resignation comes less than 24 hours after numerous Democratic members of Congress called for his firing over his handling of the dismissal of Capt. Brett Crozier, the former commanding officer of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, who penned a leaked letter pleading for U.S. intervention to stifle a COVID-19 outbreak on the 4,800-person ship.

On Monday, Modly kicked off a whirlwind of events when he boarded a flight destined for Guam, where, upon arrival, he addressed Theodore Roosevelt sailors in a speech that immediately raised eyebrows throughout the fleet and in Washington.

Over the ship’s 1MC intercom — the audio of the speech was obtained by Military Times — Modly told Roosevelt sailors that their commanding officer was either “too naïve or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this.”

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