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Lack of leadership, poor planning led to Tubbataha grounding

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In a photo released by the U.S. Navy, the mine countermeasures ship USS Guardian sits aground in this Jan. 22, 2013 file photo on the Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea in the Philippines. AP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—A “lack of leadership” and poor voyage planning led to the grounding of decommissioned USS Guardian on Tubbataha Reef, a Unesco world heritage site, in the Sulu Sea last January, the US Pacific Fleet chief said.

“USS Guardian leadership and watch teams failed to adhere to prudent, safe, and sound navigation principles which would have alerted them to approaching dangers with sufficient time to take mitigating action,” Admiral Cecil D. Haney, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, wrote in a 160-page report.

Haney concluded that a “lack of leadership” led to the watch team’s disregard of visual cues, electronic cues and alarms in the hours leading up to the grounding, and that an ultimate reliance on what would turn out to be inaccurate Digital Nautical Charts (DNC) during the planning and execution of the navigation plan ultimately led to a degradation of the ship’s navigation ability.

The US Navy added that further administrative action is under consideration. The commanding officer of ex-Guardian, Lt. Cmdr. Mark Rice, the executive officer/navigator Lt. Daniel Tyler, the assistant navigator, and the officer of the deck at the time of the grounding were relieved of their duties on April 3 by Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 7.

“This tragic mishap was wholly preventable and was the product of poor voyage planning, poor execution, and unfortunate circumstances. This investigation uncovers no single point of failure; instead, there were numerous links in the error chain leading up to the grounding. Had any one of which been appropriately addressed, the grounding would have been prevented,” Haney wrote.

Still, Haney has words of praise for the “heroic efforts of the crew to save their ship.” Emphasizing the actions of the Engineering and Damage Control teams, Haney said that their efforts were instrumental in reinforcing the ship’s hull integrity despite multiple breaches. He also commended the Boat Coxswains, Damage Control Assistant, and the Navy rescue swimmers who all ensured the safe evacuation of the crew without significant injuries.

The US Navy is facing a P58-million ($1.4-million) fine due to the incident, which damaged 2,345.67 square meters of the Tubbataha Reef, a marine protected area.

The US minesweeper just finished a port call in Subic way when it ran aground, approximately 80 miles east-southeast of Palawan Island, while on its way to Indonesia last January 17. It was then subsequently dismantled, decommissioned and stricken from the naval registry.


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Tags: Conservation , Environment , Marine Resources , maritime accident , Tubbataha Reef , USS Guardian

  • dani77777

    Ok, now, any report from the Chinese boat that did more damage?

    I guess there would be no damage report from the Chinese intruders but they probably will blame instead that Tubbataha Reef came their way.

    As of this posting, they might also be blaming us for sending Typhon Fabian to their direction.

    Who says we are the underdog? This time of the year, we have weapons of mass and wide destruction.

    • kanoy

      YES THE PHILIPPINES HELPED CAUSE MUCH OF THE DAMAGE THE CHINESE SHIP DID BY DRAGGING IT OFF RATHER THAN DISMANTLING IT LIKE THE USA DID THE $277 MILLION USS GUARDIAN

      QUOTE> Hydrographic work in the Phillipines has been delayed for years ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

      • foreignerph

        The US paid for its own dismantling. Did the Chinese pay any damages yet?

  • Crazy_horse101010

    wonder who was leading the chinese which did almost twice of damage. the philippines insults america but the chinese poachers they want to give them keys to the city a lei and send them home as heroes

  • ReneV

    well, this also happened to the chinese when one of their destroyers ran aground after that incident in Panatag. i wonder what happened to the captain and its officers and crew? if only i can get into sina weibo to know the fates of their captain and officers as well as enlisted personnel? unfortunately, these communists can access our very free sites but we from the free world cannot access theirs. yet they come here like flies commenting as if they own the site.

  • opinyonlangpo

    Its amazing how fast the investigators found the cause of the grounding, its the lack of leadership. Penalties will follow soon to whoever neglected their duties.

  • kilabot

    sounds like noykapon govt.
    run like a student council;
    coasting along until it will be grounded,
    and subsequently dismantled, decommissioned
    and registered in the official registry
    as the most abnoying period
    in ph history.

  • joboni96

    incompetent imperialist u.s. navy

    now pay up

    and stay out of our territory and eez



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