The U.S. Navy have announced that the commanding officer of USS Philippine Sea, Captain Erica Hoffmann, has been relieved due to a loss of confidence in her ability to command.  

This comes after the Ticonderoga-class cruiser had spilled close to 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel into the York River at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, where the cruiser was replenishing ammunition and stores.

It is unclear if the spill had anything to do with the decision, however.

According to a U.S. Navy statement:

“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.

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Good to see some action on sloppiness in the USN for a change.


hence the saying running a tight ship.captain has to accept all responsability no matter how small.

Levi Goldsteinberg

The incredible lack of training USN officers receive before being given their commission continues to be glaringly obvious in their sloppiness and cluelessness


Morale must be pretty low in the USN at present. Yes the Captain is where the buck stops but that sounds like it was somebody else’s screw up. Sacking the Captain seems OTT but details are thin, and other previous misdemeanors may have accrued against her.


And you make this statement from personal experience or just reading news stories? Thought so. lol. Remember that the USN has many, many more ships than the RN so it’s bound to happen that you get a few that should have never been given command. Happens in every single navy on the world. The more ship captains you have the greater the chance for problems. The RN just has so few ships that they can be overly selective, ect about who commands their ships. The vast majority of USN ship/boat captains are very professional and do a fine job. Can… Read more »


@dan, Finally, someone who is making some sense. When you have a bigger navy things like this are bound to happen. That doesn’t make the USN incompetent as a whole. Do you occasionally have mishaps and a bad captain every once in a while? Of course. But I guarantee you for every bad captain there are 10 others who are squared away and doing their job. Didn’t we just have a submarine commander fired for having a party in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic?? If anything we need to worry about growing our own shrinking navy and figure out… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

It’s easy to criticise the USN. I recall HMS Nottingham and HMS Astute incidents. Is it not the case the RN officers were also found wanting in these cases?
On this occasion I agree with our American cousins.


The problem may stem from a lack of seagoing experience in small ships or boats. In the past many officers had a chance to train in sailing yachts or motor launches.
The Dartmouth training squadron certainly had small yachts for many years and this paid off in giving the training in navigation, ship handling and command experience in difficult situations that provides all round awareness necessary for commanding large warships.

Daniele Mandelli

Oh! I assumed BRNC still had its yachts for that? Ex HMS Cromer is there too? Maybe not used for Nav training though.

Meirion X

You are probably right! The USN has a lot of large warships, 60+ Burkes etc. But not enough small ships or boats for young officers of the ranks of Lieutenant and Lt. Commander to have own ship to command to grain experience.
In the Royal Navy a Lt. Commander would be given a OPV to command!


And the RN ballistic missile (I believe it was Vigilant) submarine where both the Captain and XO were to busy screwing other members of the crew, to notice some of them smuggling cocaine?
Large bureaucracies (which militaries by definition are) inevitability have screw ups. That is just life.


Surely the MEO should take a hit?


4000 gals is a lot of fuel oil to spill! Surely someone should have noticed and stopped the process, assuming the ship was not damaged?


I think this was a case of “the last straw” here if you read behind the lines. 1 fuel spill does not usually result in “loss of confidence”…


Daniele Mandelli

Have any women made it to command a RN vessel yet?

Levi Goldsteinberg

HMS Portland had a female captain but she was fired for shagging the crew in 2014

Daniele Mandelli

Oh! That far back already. Missed that. Cheers Levi.

Andy P

Busy girl, there’s the best part of a couple hundred on a T23….

Aye, it all went wrong when they got the vote……


Not the entire crew, surely ?

David Forrest

I believe Commander Eleanor Stack, ex-captain of HMS Duncan

Paul T

Cant remember her name but HMS Duncan’s recent TV series saw a Female Captain too.


Yes, she faced multiple ‘buzzing’ by Russian jets in the Black Sea as l recall. Quite ballsy!


I’m not sure your using the correct expression. Gutsy or level headed may work.


Sorry if my terminology offended your delicate disposition.


Don’t think it was that. Just physiologically impossible.

The Big Man

Eleanor Stack, where she went after HMS Duncan appears to be a mystery. Hopefully not another one fired.

Paul T

Yes that’s the Lady – maybe she’s now doing desk duties.


@The Big Man Still in the RN as of March last year, gave a talk in Ukraine about equality in armed forces’ leadership, so possibly has a shore establishment role (?)


Captain Stack was promoted to a job in Navy Command.


Commander Eleanor Stack

Sceptical Richard

Yes, at least one. The BBC series featuring HMS Duncan T45 destroyer featured a female commanding officer in Series One.


In December 2013, Commander Catherine Jordan RN took command of HMS St Albans. Looks like she did a good job, and is now Captain Jordan in command of HMS Collingwood.


Wasn’t @ female in command of our destroyer on that tv program where they were buzzed by ruskies in the Black Sea and warmed them that the radars very powerful so stop coming too close as it can damage the aircraft.

Glen Blake

There was a female captain on HMS Duncan recently shown on TV, Very good captain.


Over the last 10 yrs or so, USN seems to have had a number of high profile mishaps. Perhaps it is because it is by far the world’s biggest and most active navy with vessels deployed globally. Or is it something more systematic – something within the doctrine, training and culture which creates bad luck or even incompetence…why would this be for a military which likes to think its the best….or does biggest not necessarily mean best?


The commander of the US Pacific fleet was sacked a couple of years ago after a series of incidents/accidents brought training standards into question. Perhaps they need to borrow FOST ?

Sceptical Richard

Lots of mishaps have befallen the USN of late, as you point out. Don’t know the exact reason for it but in my experience most systemic problems start at the very top of any organisation. I think this reflects trouble at the top, all the way up the chain to the DoD, the Pentagon, the political leadership of US Defence and it invariably may go all the way to the White House. Ships crashing into each other attract headlines which the loss of the odd fighter aircraft or Army accident doesn’t. A service which is stretched and operating under a… Read more »


Time is limited, when one of priorities is to put put sailors into stilettos for “sexual awareness” other more important things are pushed to the side.


So hard to find good help these days.


Off topic but I seen my first RAF P8 Poseidon today flying very low over Nairn Highlands just like nimrods used to do, nimrods would also circle over the town for ages though, does anyone know if they do this for over land training or anything like that?