WASHINGTON, April 7 (Reuters) – Acting U.S. Navy Secretary Thomas Modly has offered his resignation following criticism of his handling of a crisis involving the captain of a coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier, two U.S. officials and a congressional aide told Reuters on Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
It was unclear whether Defense Secretary Mark Esper accepted Modly’s resignation offer. Democrats in Congress had called for his removal, citing a loss of confidence.
Esper’s office and the Navy declined to comment.
Modly’s offer follows the public disclosure of a surprise speech he made on Monday to the crew of the Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier, in which he defended his decision to fire their commander, Captain Brett Crozier, and ridiculed him.
Hear the Recording: Modly Slams Former Theodore Roosevelt Commander
Crozier was revered by his crew for writing a letter that leaked publicly calling for stronger action from the Navy to help stem an outbreak of coronavirus infections aboard his ship.
Earlier on Tuesday, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi added her voice to calls forModly’s removal.
“Sadly, Acting Secretary Modly’s actions and words demonstrate his failure to prioritize the force protection of our troops,” Pelosi said in a statement.
A fellow Democrat, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith had already called for Modly’s removal. (Reporting by Idrees Ali, Phil Stewart and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Grant McCool)(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.