Defense secretary Mark Esper confirmed Tuesday that he had accepted the resignation of Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly after Modly called the aircraft carrier captain he fired last week “stupid” in an address to the ship’s crew.
“Secretary Modly served the nation for many years,” Esper wrote in a statement on Modly’s resignation. “I have the deepest respect for anyone who serves our country, and who places the greater good above all else. Secretary Modly did that today, and I wish him all the best.” Esper’s statement also confirmed reports that Army Undersecretary James McPherson has been appointed to replace Modly.
Modly initially he said he “stood by every word” of his comments, but later he apologized for them. Modly announced Thursday that he had relieved Capt. Brett Crozier of his role as leader of the USS Theodore Roosevelt after Crozier wrote a letter pleading with the Navy for more resources to isolate sailors amid an outbreak of the novel coronavirus on the ship, which is docked in Guam to test personnel. Modly was appointed in November following the resignation of Richard V. Spencer.