Ex-U.S. Navy secretary’s Guam trip to ridicule commander cost taxpayers $243,000: officials

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FILE PHOTO: Former Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly, testifies to the Senate Armed Services Committee during a hearing examining military housing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 3, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former acting U.S. Navy Secretary Thomas Modly’s controversial trip to Guam over the weekend where he ridiculed the commander of a coronavirus-stricken U.S. aircraft carrier cost taxpayers at least $243,000, officials said on Wednesday.

Modly resigned on Tuesday after mounting criticism for firing and ridiculing Captain Brett Crozier of the Theodore Roosevelt who pleaded for help to contain a coronavirus outbreak onboard.

Modly quit only after mounting pressure from Congress and a backlash from the crew, and followed U.S. President Donald Trump’s own suggestion on Monday that he might get involved in the matter.

Two U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Modly flew for about 35 hours on a C-37B, the military version of a Gulfstream jet.

The officials said that based on the flying time, the cost was $243,151.65.

Crozier, whom Modly relieved of command last week, favored more dramatic steps to safeguard his sailors from the spread of the coronavirus in a four-page letter that leaked to the public last week.

When Modly fired him over the leak, his crew hailed Crozier as a hero and gave him a rousing sendoff captured on video, apparently upsetting Modly and leading the Navy’s top civilian to fly to Guam to castigate the captain in a speech to the crew on Monday.

Modly questioned Crozier’s character, saying at one point he was either “stupid” or “naive.” After audio of his speech leaked, including expletives, Modly initially stood by his remarks. But he later apologized at U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s request.

So far, 286 personnel onboard the carrier have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Reporting by Idrees Ali; editing by Grant McCool

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