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Cruiser Hué City Executive Officer Relieved Over $23 Million Fire

Lt. Cmdr. John Liddle, USS Hué City (CG-66). US Navy Photo

Lt. Cmdr. John Liddle, USS Hué City (CG-66). US Navy Photo

The number two aboard a Ticonderoga-class cruiser was removed from his position following an April fire on the ship during a transit of the Atlantic, according to Thursday evening press release from U.S. Fleet Forces.

Lt. Cmdr. John Liddle, USS Hué City (CG-66) executive officer, was found guilty of “failure to comply with procedures that could have prevented the fire,” during a Thursday non-judicial punishment hearing, according to the statement

“The fire occurred as the ship was transiting the Atlantic Ocean on a scheduled deployment. The fire was the result of flammable material being stored in an unauthorized location, an exhaust uptake trunk,” read the statement.

The April 14 fire — which occurred about 200 miles from Bermuda —spread to several decks, took more than an hour and a half for the crew to put out and caused the ship to return to its homeport of Naval Station Mayport, Fla.

In May, a Mayport division of Earl Industries was awarded a $23.2 million contract for, “repairs to the superstructure including the main propulsion gas turbine intake. Work will encompass four levels and will require extensive aluminum welding,” according to a Defense Department contract announcement.

The work is planned to be completed by November, according to the announcement.

Capt. Wyatt Chidester — who led the ship for a month before the fire — was not charged.

Representatives from U.S. Fleet Forces did not immediately return calls or emails to USNI News requesting additional information.

Other press reports say an additional investigation into the fire is ongoing.

Liddle is a 1999 U.S. Naval Academy graduate and a career surface warfare officer serving on cruisers and destroyers. Liddle served shore tours at the Office of Chief of Naval Operations and U.S. Central Command, according to his official Navy bio.

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  • Pete Sikes

    Who’s the dumb-ass who stored flammables in the uptakes?

    • KenPrescott

      Whoever he is, he’s gonna sleep with da fishes…

    • Gunz4fun

      Snipes (as usual).

      • musksnipe

        I don’t think it would have been a Snipe.
        They make the boat go, not go, Boom! More than likely, it was an electrician.

      • When I was aboard a CG snipes didn’t own those uptakes and the only time we ever entered them was for PMS.

        Probably CS or maybe Nav.

    • Tom Fortin

      LOL Pete! Of course the EW’s would NEVER do such a thing! LOL!!

      • Pete Sikes

        Nope, we stored ours in the vent leading to the Wardroom!

        • Tom Fortin

          LOL!!!

          • Pete Sikes

            That was also the “super-secret smoke shack”.

  • Snake

    Did the XO tell then to store the stuff in the uptakes? Did he know about it? More info please!

    • jrboss93

      unlike politics and business … it doesn’t matter if he knew about it … he SHOULD have known about it. Honestly I can’t believe the CO wasn’t fired … generally they do inspections of key spaces when taking over command.

      I’m sure there were some pretty serious discussions with CO, XO, CHENG and MPA.

      NOTHING is supposed to be stored in those spaces and flammable material has dedicated lockers.

      My guess is that the XO signed off on a zone inspection and it was clear he didn’t actually inspect.

  • Sam Riddle

    Why is it the Navy, never gives enough info to understand the whole story? My guess is that the XO is responsible for inspecting the ship every day? Paint Lockers full? It is a REAL ROOKIE MISTAKE to leave flammables in such an obviously dangerous place! All sailors are taught about spontaneous combustion in boot camp, at least they used to be…

    • Pete Sikes

      He probably failed to conduct the Zone inspection properly.

  • farquhar1623

    Terrible article.

  • CaptainParker

    Another naval career goes down the deep six.

    • SoYank

      More like up in smoke.

  • OLDNAVYVET

    Welcome to “Com Civlant” Mr. Liddle!

    • jrboss93

      Well, he’s a LCDR, he can make it 20 … just won’t get anymore promotions.

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    • vacuum_engineer

      More like ComNavDesk.

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  • Beach Bum

    “found guilty of failure to comply with procedures that could have prevented the fire”

  • CELT the Deplorable

    This is an officer who surely should have known better. What is going on in today’s Navy with so many senior officers and enlisted personnel being relieved for cause? And now there is news of a spy from the EP-3 community turning over secrets to China. Something is seriously wrong in the United States Navy right now. This indicates a failure of leadership at the highest levels.

    • gunnerv1

      The Very Highest level of Leadership.

  • From reading the article, it seems the officer had something good going for him until the fire. Too bad.

  • Bhokara

    That sounds exactly like the Navy I was in — first absolve the CO of any wrongdoing, then find a scapegoat. I’m just surprised they didn’t pin in on an Ensign.

  • Jorge Watsonton

    So the # 2 is the problem. Guess that is why they have an executive officer to take the fall and not the Captain. Not who you know in the Navy it is who you blow in the Navy.
    And you ask why we now have the 3rd most powerful navy in the world.

    • gunnerv1

      The “XO” is responsible the Crew’s Health and Welfare Inspections (including the safety of the internals and inspections) of the ship. The “CO” is Responsible for the Ship in its Handling and Navigation and external threats (Boiled Down).

  • Curtis

    YOU linked to the official bio of a USN LCDR who is NOT named LIDDLE. In other words, your article is grossly negligent.
    I saw this same casual attitude in the article I read before this one where you report the case of a Navy LCDR jailed in pretrial confinement for 8 months for espionage and turning over SECRET data to China while serving as an EPIII Intel officer yet there was no mention of an entire EPIII aircraft and its crew landing in Hainan and leaving the Chinese to thoroughly investigate and tear into the EPIII aircraft that they TURNED OVER to China. Readers not familiar with the story might have been interested in the Navy charging this officer while failing to act in the case of the aircraft commander, pilots and crew who gave up the airplane as was their duty to do.

  • Curtis

    How pathetic. Sam, you deepsixed my comment about you writing this article as badly as the article you wrote about the EPIII Intel Officer. In this article you are linking what you say is LCDR Liddle’s biography but which, in fact, is the bio of some other LCDR.

    Don’t you think should at least try to fix your mistake rather than purge my comment? Your link still takes us to the bio of Lieutenant Commander Chadrick O. Withrow
    Executive Officer

  • gunnerv1

    Those Damned Engineers are Notorious for storing fifty pound “Bales” (Including Paint and 5 Gallon New oils and Solvents) of wiping rags for cleaning oil and solvents on equipment in the Engineering sections of the ship, but don’t worry, all of the Departments do it to a lesser extent due lack of “Squirrel away” space in their areas. Better check the “Fan Rooms and Voids” Capt.