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USS Guardian grounding blamed on officers, gear


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—Lack of leadership and faulty navigational equipment led to the grounding of the former USS Guardian on the Tubbataha Reef last January, which could have been prevented, according to the official report of the United States Navy.

“The 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,” concluded  Adm. Cecil Haney, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, in the 160-page document.

“The watch team’s observations of visual cues in the hours leading up to the grounding, combined with electronic cues and alarms, should have triggered immediate steps to resolve warnings and reconcile discrepancies,” Haney said.

The US Pacific Fleet Public Affairs Office on Friday released a press statement summarizing the US Navy’s report on the results of its investigation into the minesweeper’s grounding on Tubbataha Reef.

A link to the summary version of the report was also available online.

Haney described as a “tragic mishap” the Jan. 17 grounding of the US vessel in the World Heritage Site, which destroyed more than 2,000 square meters of prized corals that would take years to rehabilitate.


Preventable mishap

“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 said.

More punishments


The report said that “further administrative action is under consideration” against the commanding general of the ex-Guardian, Lt. Cmdr. Mark Rice, the executive officer and navigator Lt. Daniel Tyler, the assistant navigator and the officer of the deck at the time of the grounding.

The four Navy officers were relieved of their duties on April 3 by Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley, commander of the Expeditionary Strike Group 7, the statement said.

The Philippine government had said the US will be fined for the damage caused by the grounding of its military ship on the reef.

The USS Guardian was a minesweeper ship that served the US Navy for 23 years.

It had just completed a port call in Subic Bay and was on its way to Indonesia and then was to proceed to Timor-Leste to participate in a training exercise when the grounding occurred, the US Pacific Fleet statement said.

The ship was eventually dismantled since this was the only way to remove it from the reef and prevent further damage to the corals.

It was decommissioned and stricken from the naval registry.

Heroic effort

Haney, in his report, also praised the crew for its “heroic efforts to save their ship.”

He said that the actions of the engineering and damage control teams “were instrumental in reinforcing the ship’s hull integrity despite multiple breaches.”

Haney 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 statement said.

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Tags: Tubbataha Reef , US Pacific Fleet Public Affairs Office , USS Guardian

  • kanoy

    UNESCO is as slow as the PHILIPPINES at coming up with a summary

    JUNE 21–Lack of leadership

    MARCH 12– YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The commanding officer of the former
    minesweeper USS Guardian and three others have been relieved of duty Lt. Cmdr. Mark Rice, executive officer Daniel Tyler, the ship’s enlisted
    assistant navigator and the officer of the deck at the time of the
    ship’s grounding were all relieved because they “did not adhere to the
    standard navy navigation procedures,”
    UNLIKE THE RP- THERE ARE NO ”SACRED COWS” IN THE USA- WRONG IS WRON Rice is at least the seventh Navy commanding officer to be relieved of duty this year
    The $277 Million ship had to be dismantled at sea at a cost of roughly $25 million ITOTAL LOSS EXCEEDS 4X THE 2013 RP BUDGET)
    Initial estimate that 4,000 square meters of reef were affected by the
    Guardian’s grounding. If that figure holds, the U.S. could be fined more
    than $2 million, Philippine officials have stated

    • BIGButo

      Sad but true. Greedy government always want more.

  • BakbakanNa

    Hindi masasabi na kung Puti ay perpekto yan sila. Sobrang kumpyansa palagi . Akala nila hindi sila ma run aground kasi kumpleto sa gamit. Dereliction of duties ang labas . Hindi nag plot nang maigi ang searoute nila.

    • janalexis777

      I agree with you that there were lapses but paper plotting is not required when you have a digital chart.

  • BIGButo

    How much did the Chinese pay for the reef and the pangolins!

    • Alex Alvarez

      0.00… tingnan mo kung pano itrato ng pilipinas ang sinasabi nilang ally at ang sinasabi nilang ‘kaaway’………iyong uss guardian, hinayaang idismantle samantalang ang chinese ship hinila, kahit sabihin pa nating mas kokonti ang napinsalang reef nong chinese vessel, di pa rin patas ang pagtrato….

      Palibahasa kadugo nila, at madami komunistang nakaupo sa gobyerno… pano pagtitiwalaan ng US ang Pinas niyan?

  • alisto101

    Lesson101. . Don’t trust your equipment even though how modern it will be. .

  • joboni96

    incompetent imperialist u.s. navy
    now pay up

    and stay out of our territory and eez

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