Navy Removes USS Philippine Sea CO After Fuel Spill

May 19, 2020 9:31 AM - Updated: June 12, 2020 11:51 AM
USS Philippine Sea (CG-58) transits the Atlantic Ocean in 2019. US Navy Photo

The Navy removed the captain of USS Philippine Sea, the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser that spilled close to 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel into the York River on May 7.

Rear Adm. Richard Cheeseman, the commander of Carrier Strike Group 2, relieved Capt. Erica Hoffmann of command of Philippine Sea due to a loss of confidence in her ability to command, according to a Navy statement.

Capt. Erica Hoffman. US Navy Photo

Capt. Robert Thompson, who was assigned to Naval Surface Force Atlantic, is serving as the temporary commanding officer of Philippine Sea until a permanent commander is named. Hoffmann was temporarily reassigned to serve on the staff of the commander of U.S. 4th Fleet, according to a Navy statement.

The diesel spill occurred while Philippine Sea was pier side at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, where the cruiser was loading ammunition aboard, USNI News first reported.

The cause of the spill is under investigation.

The majority of diesel fuel was contained by booms already placed around the cruiser while it was in Yorktown. The ship’s crew, a Navy oil recovery team from Naval Weapons Station Yorktown and U.S. Coast Guard personnel responded to the incident, which was 90 percent contained by the afternoon of May 7, Navy officials previously told USNI News.

Philippine Sea, which is homeported in Mayport, Fla., returned in August 2017 from a seven-month deployment to the Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East as part of the George H. W. Bush Carrier Strike Group.

The following is the complete May 18 statement from the Navy.

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) — Rear Adm. Richard Cheeseman, commander, Carrier Strike Group TWO (CSG-2), relieved the commanding officer of USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) Capt. Erica Hoffmann, May 18, due to a loss of confidence in her ability to command.

Hoffmann had served as the commanding officer of Philippine Sea since April 2019. Capt. Robert Thompson, assigned to Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic, will assume temporary duties as commanding officer until a permanent relief is identified.

Hoffmann will be temporarily reassigned to the staff of Commander, U.S. Fourth Fleet.

Ben Werner

Ben Werner

Ben Werner is a staff writer for USNI News. He has worked as a freelance writer in Busan, South Korea, and as a staff writer covering education and publicly traded companies for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., Savannah Morning News in Savannah, Ga., and Baltimore Business Journal. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree from New York University.

Get USNI News updates delivered to your inbox