The Navy this week fired a captain at Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) after a second fuel leak was discovered at the Red Hill fuel storage facility in Hawaii.
The Pentagon agreed one month ago to close the facility that leaked into the water supply and sickened thousands of military families. Last week, the Navy said a routine operations was being conducted to remove water from two fuel tanks when fuel was again released into the water supply.
The Navy said it was monitoring the quality of the water supply and that authorities in Hawaii were alerted.
On Monday, the Navy said the incident prompted NAVSUP Commanding Officer Rear Adm. Peter Stamatopoulos relieved Capt. Albert Lee Hornyak, who was commanding officer of NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center. Hornyak was removed “due to a loss of confidence in his ability to perform his duties following a series of leadership and oversight failures at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility.”
“Rear Adm. Kristin Acquavella will be temporarily assigned as commanding officer while a formal replacement is identified,” the Navy added. “Stamatopoulos will also assign additional senior fuel Defense Fuel Supply Points subject matter experts to assist Acquavella.”
The Red Hill fuel leak is more than a personnel challenge for the Navy. The plan is to close the facility over the next few years and establish a new system for refueling U.S. Navy vessels in the Pacific.
The Navy has said little about exactly what system will replace the Red Hill facility. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said a centralized fuel facility in Hawaii makes “a lot less sense” decades beyond World War II.
But replacing the 250 million gallon facility at Red Hill could be a challenge. The Navy has talked storing some fuel in tankers at sea and building smaller storage locations across the Pacific, but Congress has yet to appropriate any funding for this or any other project.
The Biden administration proposed an additional $1 billion in its FY2023 budget proposal to fund cleanup operations at Red Hill.
# # #