The trip to an aircraft carrier last weekend by the now-outgoing Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly to call ousted Capt. Brett Crozier “stupid” cost taxpayers more than $243,000, according to a Navy official.
The astounding cost covered the 35-hour round trip on a Gulfstream 550, the unnamed official said. Modly flew on the C-37B, a Gulfstream business jet modified for military use, which costs $6,946.19 per hour, USA Today was the first to report.
Modly resigned Tuesday after lashing Crozier as “too naive or too stupid to lead the ship” in a speech Monday to sailors on the USS Theodore Roosevelt after their captain called on Navy brass to deal with an outbreak of coronavirus on his ship at sea.
Modly’s speech was leaked to the media. Sailors on board can be heard yelling at Modly as he denigrates a captain many saw as a hero for helping protect them. Modly apologized after the leak and resigned his post on Tuesday.
Crozier had sent a letter March 30 seeking help dealing with a coronavirus outbreak on his ship in a nonsecure unclassified email. It leaked to the media. More than 100 of 4,000 sailors on the ship had already tested positive for COVID-19 when Cozier sent the plea.
By Thursday, 97% of the aircraft carrier’s crew had been tested for coronavirus, with 416 testing positive. Only about 2,300 of close to 4,800 sailers had been evacuated from the ship, according to CNN.
Modly dismissed Crozier as commander of the ship last week, citing a loss of confidence in the captain’s judgment. Crozier received a standing ovation from his crew as he departed Friday.
President Donald Trump said last week that “it was terrible” what Crozier did, “to write a letter. This isn’t a class on literature .... He shouldn’t be talking that way in a letter.” Trump said Crozier “raised alarm bells unnecessarily.”
After a continued outcry following Crozier’s dismissal, Trump said Monday that Crozier should not have lost his job for having a “bad day.“ Trump said he heard “very good things about the gentleman.”
Crozier has not been reinstated. He has tested positive for COVID-19.
Pentagon officials defended Modly’s trip.
“I think we want to be very careful to signal that senior leaders shouldn’t be getting out in the field and seeing what’s going on,” Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist said at a news briefing Thursday, CNN reported.
Air Force Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said officials need to travel to sites. “You actually need to talk to folks in the Pacific. And eyes-on is always the best way to figure out what’s going on.”
Modly is currently in quarantine after his possible exposure to coronavirus on the Theodore Roosevelt.
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