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The USS Guardian, the US Navy Minesweeper that let her guard down is now rapidly disappearing bit by bit from Tubbataha Reef.

USS Guardian salvage operations

USS Guardian

USS Guardian Salvage Operations

These are the latest images showing progress todate.

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First pictures of the USS Guardian breakup and removal from Tubbataha Reef, shows her top (Funnel) coming off.

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There are claims the authorities plan the removal to be complete by 23rd March. As the operation is weather dependant, and given the delays to date,  that seems like an aggressive schedule.

jascon25

As a Minesweeper, her hull is Wooden, so they are about to get the Chainsaw’s buzzing to her cut up. The USS Guardian, whoose value was estimated at US$ 277 million will be a Total Loss. A sad end to US Naval vessel that had some of the most sophisticated sonar and navigation electronics onboard.

The initial explanation for her grounding was a discrepency between her Electronic Charts (ECDIS) and “reality”. The size of the bust; reportedly 8 nautical miles !

This Chart produced by the Philippine Coast Guard indicates her position on the Reef. The ‘reality’.

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This chartlet illustrates her position as believed to be presented onboard the vessels Electronic Navigation systems. The ‘bust’.

TubbaENCwreckLocation

This is a view of the area as seen from a Helicopter some time later.

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The distance between going on her way and ending up as matchsticks was likley only around 300 metres to the west, where she would have scraped past the edge of the reef. So close but yet so far.

It does make you wonder what level of lookout was being maintained on the bridge of the vessel, both by eye and by radar. Depending on the state of the tide and the weather, the reef and breaking waves may have been visible. It is stated the reef has more than 3 to 5 feet of sea water covering at high tide, but the Black Rock feature and the Navigation Light Marker at the South of the structure should have been visible on Radar.

Also as the vessel had been called by the Park Rangers on the reef, there should have been a higher level of vigilance onboard.

It is easy to just roll along trusting the instruments that have always been right before, but there always has to be a ‘calibration’ with reality no matter where you are, and Radar is an excellent tool to do that.

At the end of the day there is no substitute for keeping a vigilant lookout, and examining any surrounding features both by eye and by radar.

Most accidents would seem to be avoidable if a good lookout is maintained and by taking cautionary actions early, when anything unexpected comes along.

I am sure that somone will soon be flipping burgers instead of flipping through charts as a US Naval personnel.

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From ABC News.

US Navy to Dismantle Ship Stuck on Philippine Reef
MANILA, Philippines January 30, 2013 (AP)

Guardian

The U.S. Navy said Wednesday that it would dismantle a minesweeper that ran aground on a coral reef in the Philippines after carefully studying all options on how to remove the damaged ship.

Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. James Stockman said dismantling the USS Guardian was determined to be the solution that would involve the least damage to the Tubbataha Reef, a protected marine sanctuary where the ship got stuck Jan. 17.

He said the Philippine coast guard was reviewing the plan, but gave no other details.

The Navy had said previously that the Guardian would be lifted by crane onto a barge and taken to a shipyard, but apparently the damage was too extensive and it will have to be cut up and removed in pieces. Stockman gave no time frame for the operation.

The grounding caused no casualties to the ship’s 79 crew and officers, who were taken off the vessel after it crashed into the reef in shallow waters. The ship began listing and taking on water through holes in the wooden hull. The Navy’s support vessels siphoned off remaining fuel and salvage teams removed heavy equipment and hazardous material.

The Navy is investigating the incident, which caused Philippine government agencies and environmentalists to express concern about the extent of damage to the coral reef.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said last week that the U.S. Navy must explain how the ship got off course. He said the Navy would face fines for damaging the environment.

Rear Adm. Thomas Carney, commander of the Navy’s Logistics Group in the Western Pacific, told reporters last week that the investigation would look into all the factors that may have led to the grounding, including a reported faulty digital chart, sea conditions, weather and the state of the ship’s navigational equipment.

The Navy and the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines, Harry K. Thomas, have apologized for the grounding and promised to cooperate with its close ally.

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From National Post

$277M USS Guardian is a complete loss: Navy plans to dismantle ship that ran aground in Pacific

On Reef - Salvage

HONOLULU — The U.S. Navy plans to dismantle a minesweeper that ran aground on a coral reef off the Philippines because the ship is a complete loss and because removing it intact would cause more damage to the reef and the ship’s hull, a spokesman said Wednesday.

There’s also a chance the USS Guardian might break up or sink if crews tried to remove it without taking it apart first, U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman Capt. Darryn James said.

Limiting damage to the coral, which is part of a national marine park, is important to the Navy, James said.

“We really do care about being good stewards of the environment,” he said by telephone from Pacific Fleet headquarters in Pearl Harbor.

The Navy has presented the ship removal plan to the Philippines, which is reviewing it.

“We’re working very closely with the Philippine coast guard, with their navy and their government personnel. We’ve been grateful for their support as we all work together to remove Guardian and minimize further damage to the reef,” James said.

It’s expected to take over a month to dismantle the Guardian, which ran aground before dawn on Jan. 17.

Crews have already removed 15,000 gallons of fuel from the ship. They’ve also taken off hundreds of gallons of lubricating oil and paint. They’ll be removing human wastewater and other materials that could harm the environment, James said.

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Source Wikipedia.
On 17 January 2013 following a port call and fuel stop in Subic, Guardian proceeded across the Sulu Sea and entered the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park. After appearing on Park radar, at approximately 0400 hours local time Guardian was radioed a warning by park officials that the vessel had entered a restricted area. Park officials claim their lawful warning was met with disregard by Guardian, which radioed back to “bring [their] complaint to the US Embassy.” Shortly thereafter, the captain of the USS Guardian ran his vessel aground on Tubbataha Reef, about 130 kilometres (70 nmi) south east of Palawan in the Philippines. At the time of the accident the ship was travelling from Subic Bay in the Philippines to another port. The extent of any damage to the reef is unknown, but there is no evidence that fuel oil is leaking; damage to the reef has been estimated at 10 meters by the World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines. The U.S. Navy evacuated all 79 crew members from the minesweeper to the USNS Bowditch and MV C Champion on 18 January. On January 19, an assessment team was deployed would plan and execute the vessel’s extraction. On January 20, 2013, the Navy Times reported the ship is taking on water in multiple places and is experiencing a slight list to port.

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The comments in the article of the Park Rangers on the Reef calling the USS Guardian by Radio reminded me very much of the following………Click the picture below to play the Video……

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USS Guardian

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