Former Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly’s disastrous trip to address sailors aboard the coronavirus-stricken USS Theodore Roosevelt in Guam reportedly cost taxpayers more than $243,000.
Modly flew to Guam over the weekend to speak to the crew of the aircraft carrier following the firing of its commander, Captain Brett Crozier, who was removed after a letter he wrote to Navy leaders criticizing their response to a COVID-19 outbreak on board leaked in the media.
The secretary stepped down hours after he returned to Washington, DC, on Tuesday amid outrage over his scathing speech to the sailors, during which he branded Crozier ‘naive’ and ‘stupid’ for allegedly sharing his letter outside the chain of command.
A Navy official has now revealed the steep cost of Modly’s visit to the ship, which involved a 35-hour round trip flight aboard a Gulfstream 550 military jet.
Former Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly’s disastrous trip to address sailors aboard the coronavirus-stricken USS Roosevelt in Guam reportedly cost taxpayers more than $243,000
Modly traveled 35 hours round-trip from Washington, DC, to Guam on a Gulfstream 550 military jet (pictured) which costs nearly $7,000 per hour to fly
Modly flew on a C-37B plane which costs $6,946.19 per hour to fly, according to a Navy official who spoke to USA Today on condition of anonymity.
The flights to and from Guam took about 35 hours total, racking up a bill of $243,166.
In total, Modly’s trip cost nearly $250,000, according to California Rep Jackie Speier, chair of the House Subcommittee on Military Personnel.
Speier, a Democrat, slammed President Donald Trump and Pentagon leaders for allowing the trip in the first place.
Captain Brett Crozier (pictured) was fired as commander of the USS Roosevelt last week after a letter he wrote to Navy leaders criticizing their response to a COVID-19 outbreak on the vessel leaked in the media
‘The president should turn his ire on the brain trust that allowed Modly to travel to Guam at the cost of nearly $250,000 – a trip that only made the situation aboard the USS Roosevelt exponentially worse while still failing to address the needs of the crew, and the fleet, to protect itself amid the COVID-19 outbreak,’ Speier told USA Today.
Critics have also accused Modly of endangering lives by taking the trip while the nation is under strict orders to limit travel to avoid spreading coronavirus.
Reuters reported that Modly’s own aides had discouraged him from traveling to Guam, but he insisted on doing so to stand by his firing of Crozier.
The crew hailed Crozier a hero for writing the unprecedented letter and were filmed cheering for the captain as he departed the ship.
Unsettled by the rousing send-off, Modly sought to defend his decision in his address to the sailors.
In viral video of the speech, Modly accused Crozier of ‘betrayal’ and suggested that the sailors’ love for him was misplaced.
Referencing the leaked letter, Modly said: ‘If he didn’t think, in my opinion, that this information wasn’t going to get out into the public, in this day and information age we live in, then he was either A) too naïve or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this. The alternative is that he did this on purpose.’
The USS Roosevelt was forced to dock in Guam in late March due to a COVID-19 outbreak
Modly’s remarks didn’t go down well with the sailors or with lawmakers, many of whom called for his removal over his handling of the entire controversy.
The Navy secretary initially defended his statements but later issued an apology before ultimately submitting his resignation to Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday.
In a note to sailors, Modly said he took responsibility for events over the past few days.
‘It is not just missiles that can take us down, words can do it too, if we aren’t careful with how and when we use them,’ Modly said. ‘It’s my fault. I own it.’
Modly was placed in quarantine after he returned from Guam but the Pentagon has declined to comment on his health status.
Current Army Undersecretary Jim McPherson was tapped to replace Modly as acting Navy secretary.
As of Tuesday, at least 286 sailors aboard the USS Roosevelt have tested positive for coronavirus.
The Navy said that 93 percent of the roughly 5,000-person crew has been tested and 2,329 sailors have been moved to shore and placed in isolation.
The remaining sailors are still on board to run nuclear reactors, guard weapons and disinfect the ship, which first docked in Guam on March 26 after 25 sailors tested positive for COVID-19.
In his letter dated March 30, Crozier called for the evacuation of 90 percent of the crew as he argued that it was impossible to protect sailors on board the ship.
‘We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors,’ the captain wrote in the letter that was leaked in the media two days later.
Crozier’s extraordinary plea put the Pentagon on the defensive about whether it was doing enough to keep the USS Roosevelt’s crew safe as lawmakers and families of military members express concerns that other ships could be vulnerable to outbreaks.
The captain is believed to have sent the letter to several people knowing that it stood a good chance of being leaked to the press.
Navy leaders have insisted that the situation was under control prior to Crozier’s letter, but many critics have noted that the evacuation efforts ramped up significantly in its wake.
CAPTAIN BRETT CROZIER’S FULL MEMO TO NAVY LEADERS