Navy Cruiser Commanding Officer Fired After 4,000-Gallon Fuel Spill

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Cmdr. Erica Hoffmann enters the decommissioning ceremony of Samuel B. Roberts.
FILE -- Cmdr. Erica Hoffmann enters the decommissioning ceremony of Samuel B. Roberts at Naval Station Mayport, May 22, 2018. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Nathan Lang)

The commanding officer of the Navy warship that spilled thousands of gallons of fuel into a Virginia river earlier this month has been removed from her job.

Capt. Erica Hoffmann, commanding officer of the guided-missile cruiser Philippine Sea was relieved of her duties on Monday, Navy officials announced. Rear Adm. Richard Cheeseman, commander of Carrier Strike Group Two, lost confidence in Hoffmann's ability to command, Lt. Cmdr. Richlyn Ivey with Naval Surface Force Atlantic said.

"Many factors weigh into a decision to relieve a commanding officer due to loss of confidence," Ivey added.

The Philippine Sea was at a pier at the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station on the York River on May 7 when it spilled 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel at about 7 a.m.

Related: Navy Warship Spills 4,000 Gallons of Fuel into Virginia River

Ivey said a command investigation into the matter is complete, but declined to comment on its findings since it's still in the review process. Hoffmann did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The captain has been temporarily reassigned to the staff at U.S. Fourth Fleet. Capt. Robert Thompson with Naval Surface Force Atlantic has assumed temporary duties as the Philippine Sea's commanding officer until a permanent relief is identified, Ivey said.

A Navy oil recovery team and the Coast Guard responded to the May 7 fuel spill. Most of the fuel was contained, officials told The Associated Press, and there was little impact to the shoreline.

Hoffmann assumed command of the Philippine Sea in April 2019. A U.S. Naval Academy graduate, she previously served as the reactor officer on the aircraft carrier George H. W. Bush and as executive officer of the guided-missile frigate Samuel B. Roberts.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

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