Former Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, who resigned last spring after a recording leaked of him trash talking the fired commanding officer of the COVID-stricken aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt in an address to the crew, defended his decisions this week while acknowledging the personal mistakes he made along the way.

Writing in the U.S. Naval Institute’s “Proceedings” magazine, Modly said his decision to fire Capt. Brett Crozier over the skipper’s handling of the onboard coronavirus outbreak was his judgement call as the Navy’s “senior boss.”

“I know he believed he was making the best decisions he could at the time,” Modly wrote. “In my view, he made a big mistake.”

He also decried the outside voices who questioned his decisions.

“It was my call,” Modly wrote. “Not the media’s, not Congress’s. 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.”

While Modly wrote that he still believes he made the right calls in firing Crozier, going to Guam and addressing the crew with “a tough message” days after Crozier was relieved, Modly also wrote that he was right to resign when a recording of the fiery crew address was leaked.

A letter Crozier sent to higher ups pleading for more and faster help for his beleaguered crew was leaked to the media, and Modly told TR’s crew during a profanity-laced April 13 onboard address that Crozier was “too naïve or too stupid to be a commanding officer” if he thought the letter wouldn’t leak.

“The alternative is that he did this on purpose,” Modly added at the time.

“As I learned, the consequences of trying to make the best decision, given the information available at the time of the decision, are not predictable, he wrote this month. “They weren’t predictable for either the commanding officer of the Theodore Roosevelt or me last spring.”

Go here to read Modly’s full piece.

Geoff is the editor of Navy Times, but he still loves writing stories. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at

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