By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - The Acting chief of the U.S. navy slammed the captain he ousted from command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt while addressing the ship's crew, calling him "stupid," according to multiple reports released Monday.
Thomas Modly launched the broadside during surprise remarks to the aircraft carrier's crew, transcripts and audio recordings of which were leaked to the media. He said Capt. Brett Crozier was either "too naive or too stupid" to remain in command if he thought his letter to Navy leadership warning of the outbreak would not be leaked to the press.
"It was a betrayal. And I can tell you one other thing: because he did that he put it in the public's forum and it is now a big controversy in Washington, DC," Modly said, according to a transcript of his remarks obtained by CNN.
Crozier departed the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier to raucous cheers from his crew last week after being fired by Modly for raising the alarm on the spread of the coronavirus on the ship.
The vast outpouring of support for the dismissed captain was captured on video by those on or near the ship who recorded as the crew yelled his name in between unison claps.
Modly has defended his decision to relieve Crozier of command, saying the Navy captain jeopardized the ship's security when he sent the missive via unsecured email to a "broad array of people."
The Theodore Roosevelt, which has a crew of over 4,000 sailors, has been docked in Guam since March 27 as the Pentagon tries to tamp down the COVID-19 outbreak on board the ship.
Before it arrived for the scheduled port visit three sailors tested positive for the disease. Half of the sailors on board have since been tested for the virus, with 155 people confirmed to be infected, according to data released Sunday by the Navy.
Over 1,800 sailors have been moved ashore, it added.
Following his departure from the ship, Crozier also tested positive, the New York Times reported citing two of his Naval Academy classmates who remain close to the captain and his family.
Crozier began exhibiting symptoms before he was relieved of command, according to the Times.