Philippines: Stranded US Navy ship ignored warnings

US Navy minesweeper, the USS Guardian, pictured as it remains trapped on the Tubbataha Reef, on January 19, 2013
This photo, taken on January 19, 2013 by the Philippine Western Command (WESCOM), shows an aerial shot of US Navy minesweeper, the USS Guardian, as it remains trapped on the Tubbataha Reef after it ran aground near the south-western Philippine island of Palawan.

A US Navy minesweeper that has been stuck on a World Heritage-listed coral reef in the Philippines since last week ignored warnings to avoid the area, a government official said on Monday.

The comments from the superintendent of Tubbataha , Angelique Songco, added to growing anger in the Philippines over the incident, for which the has apologised but may still face fines.

Park rangers radioed the USS Guardian to advise it was nearing the Tubbataha Reef on Thursday, but the ship captain insisted they raise their complaint with the US embassy, Songco told reporters.

She said shortly after the warning, the 68-metre (224-foot) vessel became stuck on part of Tubbataha Reef, a on the Sulu Sea about 130 kilometres (80 miles) southeast of the western island of Palawan.

The site is protected by Philippine law, and is off-limits to navigation except for research or tourism approved by Songco's office.

Songco said it was too early to assess the damage to the corals and the corresponding fines, with the vessel still stuck on the reef and being battered by big waves.

The commander of the US Navy's 7th Fleet, Vice Admiral Scott Swift, apologised in a statement from Japan on Sunday.

"As a protector of the sea and a sailor myself, I greatly regret any damage to this incident has caused to the Tubbataha Reef," Swift said.

He acknowledged that protecting the reef was vital, and that the Navy took its obligations to preserve seriously.

He said the crew members had left the vessel, and there were no traces of any oil leaks.

The Philippine Navy said three of its ships had been put on standby near the area to assist in efforts to remove the Guardian from the reef, to join two civilian tugboats contracted by the Americans.

The Guardian had been en route to Indonesia after visiting a Philippine port north of Manila when the incident occurred, according to the US Navy.

Some politicians and nationalist activist groups have said the US ship had violated the terms of a 1999 visiting forces agreement by sailing in the area.

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Citation: Philippines: Stranded US Navy ship ignored warnings (2013, January 21) retrieved 16 October 2019 from
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Jan 21, 2013
Not uncommon if the captain of the Guardian was under classified orders, to give chase, or take evasive action to avoid a mine or torpedo while track something during reconnaissance.

Jan 21, 2013
Sink it.

Jan 21, 2013
Are they telling us that a USNavy warship did not have the requisite navigational and charting data to know of this risk --in friendly, routine-operations waters?

Rank arrogance and stupidity like this cannot go unpunished.

I suspect that the Guardian's captain will soon discover that such incompetence will not be "overlooked", even if it was the result of a legitimate manouever.

Jan 21, 2013
Conspiracy time! (no, don't take the following serious)

Maybe they wanted to sink it, anyhow? This way they can save themselves the cost for scrapping it. (Maybe the captain even got a bonus from the military industrial comple - because taxpayers will surely buy a brand new one, now)

And who in the US cares about foreign relations with the Phillipines...

Are they telling us that a USNavy warship did not have the requisite navigational

Psah. Sonar is expensive.

Jan 21, 2013
Another instance of arrogance of a 'so called commander'. Upshot is that he will be promoted and retired in a higher rank than what he has served in.
I think they need to get rid of the Naval Academy. Leaders should come up from the ranks. At least they will remember how not to crap on lower ranks which is the usual way now.

Jan 21, 2013
Sink it now!

Jan 21, 2013
What is your address again JohnnyCab? You invite me over for lunch, imply that you are going to sink me, and then never provide your address.

How cowardly of you.

Jan 22, 2013
Wow, a real life version of the old joke...

Jan 22, 2013
"Wow, a real life version of the old joke..."

I am not sure that this was just a joke

Jan 22, 2013
Burn it.

Jan 22, 2013
Burn it now.

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