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Defence IQ

Only option to dismantle minesweeper USS Guardian trapped in Philippines

Contributor:  Defence IQ Press
Posted:  01/29/2013  12:00:00 AM EST  | 

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The U.S. Navy is cutting its losses with the minesweeper vessel that is trapped on a reef just off the Philippines. The USS Guardian ran aground earlier this month after its navigational system placed the Tubbataha Reefs eight nautical miles away from its current position. Following an analysis of the options available to recover the ship, “our only supportable option is to dismantle the damaged ship and remove it in sections,” said Captain Darryn James, a spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Not only is the loss of the Guardian an embarrassing one, it also presents a strategic headache for the U.S. Navy as its minesweeping fleet now stands at just 13 vessels. Being one of the busiest sectors in the fleet, and with minesweeping operations set to increase over the next few years, finding it now has to proceed with a depleted force is regretful.

The minesweeper was headed to Indonesia from Subic Bay – it’s not yet clear why it took a course that landed it in the Western Philippines although it’s been reported that the US military has been making more and more visits to the area of late. The Guardian reportedly ignored a number of messages from local authorities warning that is was headed for the reef, which is a protected UNESCO world heritage site.

“As a protector of the sea and a sailor myself, I greatly regret any damage this incident has caused to the Tubbataha Reef,” Vice Admiral Scott Swift, commander of the Seventh Fleet, said in a statement. “We know the significance of the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park and its importance as a World Heritage Site. Its protection is vital, and we take seriously our obligations to protect and preserve the maritime environment.”

Defence IQ Press Contributor:   Defence IQ Press

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