Sunday, August 7, 2022

Captain of guided-missile cruiser that spilled diesel fuel into the York River relieved of command

File photo of the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58). (WYDaily/Courtesy of the U.S. Navy)
File photo of the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58). (WYDaily/Courtesy of the U.S. Navy)

Loss of confidence in her ability to command.

That was the reason the Navy gave Monday after relieving Capt. Erica Hoffmann of her command of the USS Philippine Sea (CG-58), a Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser that spilled nearly 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel into the York River earlier this month.

Rear Adm. Richard Cheeseman, commander, Carrier Strike Group TWO (CSG-2), made the decision.

Hoffmann had served as the commanding officer of the USS 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, according to a statement from the Navy.

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

Navy officials said they are still investigating what caused the spill May 7 while the ship was pierside at the Naval Weapons Station in Yorktown.

RELATED STORY: A guided-missile cruiser spilled diesel fuel into the York River. The Navy is investigating

Ted Brown, from the Public Affairs Office/ Installations and Environmental Public Affairs Officer for U.S. Fleet Forces Command, previously said “the majority of the spill was contained within the pre-positioned boom and under the pier.”

The fuel was recovered using a fuel vacuum truck and fuel absorbing materials by Thursday (May 7) afternoon,” Brown said. “The remaining sheen was unrecoverable and dissipated with minimal impact to the shoreline.”

USS Philippine Sea, which is homeported in Mayport, Florida, returned in August 2017 from a 7-month deployment to the Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East as part of the George H. W. Bush Carrier Strike Group, according to U.S. Naval Institute News.

John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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