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USS Guardian (MCM-5)
USS Guardian (MCM-5)
USS Guardian underway in November 2002.
Career (United States)
Name: USS Guardian
Builder: Peterson Builders
Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, U.S.
Laid down: 8 May 1985
Launched: 20 June 1987
Commissioned: 16 December 1989
Decommissioned: 15 February 2013
Struck: 15 February 2013
Motto: "Forerunner of Freedom"
Badge: USS Guardian MCM-5 Crest.png
General characteristics
Class & type: Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship
Displacement: 1,367 long tons (1,389 t)
Length: 224 ft (68 m) o/a
Beam: 39 ft (12 m)
Draft: 13 ft (4.0 m)
Propulsion: 4 × Isotta-Fraschini diesel engines
2 × controllable/reversible pitch propellers
2 × rudders
2 × light-load electric motors
Speed: 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph)
Complement: 6 officers and 75 enlisted
Sensors and
processing systems:
• AN/SLQ-48 (V) Mine Neutralization System
• AN/SQL-37 (V) 3 Magnetic/Acoustic Influence Minesweeping Gear
• Oropesa type 0 size 1 Mechanical Sweep Equipment
• MDG 1701 Marconi Magnetometer Degaussing System
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
• AN/SSN-2 Precise Integrated Navigation System (PINS)
AN/SQQ-32 Mine-hunting sonar
AN/SPS-55 Surface Radar
• AN/WSN-7 Gyro Compass
Armament: • 2 × M2 Browning .50-cal machine guns
• 2 × M240 7.62 mm machine guns
• 2 × Mk 19 grenade launchers

USS Guardian (MCM-5) was an Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship of the United States Navy. The second ship to bear that name, she was laid down on 8 May 1985 by Peterson Builders, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin; launched on 20 June 1987; and commissioned on 16 December 1989. In 2010, Guardian became the first mine countermeasures vessel in the Seventh Fleet modified for a mixed-sex crew.

On 17 January 2013, Guardian ran aground on Tubbataha Reef. Unable to be recovered, the vessel was decommissioned and struck on 15 February 2013. After the removal of fuel and useful equipment, the minehunter was cut into three sections and lifted off the reef by crane ships. The last section was removed from Tubbataha Reef on 30 March 2013.

History[edit | edit source]

In late November 2007, USS Guardian and fellow minesweeper USS Patriot (MCM-7) sought refueling and refuge from an approaching storm in Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour, but were denied entry without explanation by the People's Republic of China.[1] Both ships were eventually refueled at sea and returned safely to their homeports in Japan.[1]

In February 2010, USS Guardian became the first mine countermeasures vessel in the Seventh Fleet to receive the Women-at-Sea modification,[citation needed] which was intended to allow the small vessel to accommodate a mixed-gender crew. The modification added no additional sleeping space, but did provide for separate toilet and shower facilities for female crew members. However, with the exception of a very few officers, all mine countermeasures vessels in the Seventh Fleet were still manned by all-male crews at that time.

January 2013 grounding[edit | edit source]

USS Guardian aground on 29 January 2013.

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.[2] where she grounded at 2:25 am. About 90 minutes after the grounding she was seen on park radar, at approximately 04:00 hours local time.[3] Guardian ran aground on Tubbataha Reef about 130 kilometres (70 nmi) south east of Palawan in the Philippines.[4][5] At the time of the accident the ship was travelling from Subic Bay in the Philippines to Indonesia.[6] The extent of any damage to the reef was unknown, but there was no evidence that there was a fuel oil leak.[7] Philippines officials later estimated the damage to the reef at 1,000 square meters.[8] The U.S. Navy evacuated all 79 crew members from the minesweeper to USNS Bowditch and MV C Champion on 18 January.[6] On 19 January, an assessment team was deployed to plan and execute the vessel's extraction.[9] On 20 January 2013, Navy Times reported the ship was taking on water in multiple places and was experiencing a slight list to port.[10]

Originally, only the bow section of Guardian rested on the reef, but wave action pushed the entire vessel onto the reef, 20 to 30 metres (66 to 98 ft) from the edge. The guided missile destroyer USS Mustin, the oceanographic survey ship USNS Bowditch and the rescue and salvage ship USNS Salvor arrived in the area to help in the intended extraction, as well as tugboats and Philippine navy and coast guard vessels. It was intended for Guardian to be removed from the area by crane ships from Singapore and then be placed on a barge or other ship, since the ship was too damaged to be towed due to multiple hull penetrations.[11][12] During the time that the cranes made their journey from Singapore to the Philippines, preparations were made for the lift. 15,000 gallons of diesel fuel were extracted from the tanks in Guardian to other ships that were on station and refilled with seawater to keep the vessel stable. Dry food stores and the personal effects of the Guardian's crew were removed as well. Salvage experts began to reinforce the wood-and-fiberglass hull of the minesweeper with Kevlar lines to mitigate stresses from waves hitting the vessel.[13] In February 2013, Guardian was replaced with USS Warrior in the 7th Fleet, with the crew of Warrior returning to San Diego, and the crew of Guardian taking over.[14]

A section of Guardian's hull being removed by the US Navy contracted crane vessel M/V Jascon 25 on 26 March 2013

On 29 January 2013, the United States Navy announced that the ship would be cut into three sections on the reef prior to removal, resulting in the total loss of the ship. USS Guardian was decommissioned and struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 15 February 2013 and is currently pending disposal.[15] Philippine officials are examining whether fines will be levied against the United States, as it may be fined $600 per square meter of damaged reef,[16] and the Philippine Senate has called for an investigation into the incident.[17] On 20 February 2013, Admiral Cecil D. Haney met with the crew of Guardian at United States Fleet Activities Sasebo.[18] On 27 February 2013, salvage crews began to disassemble Guardian, a process originally estimated to take a month.[19] The bridge deck was removed on 4 March 2013.[20] On 30 March 2013, the stern section of the ship was lifted off the reef, completing the removal process.[21]

Original estimates were that 4,000 square meters of reef was damaged but a survey done after removal, by the World Wide Fund for Nature–Philippines and the Tubbataha Management Office, measured the damage area at 2,345.67 square meters.[22] Under Philippine law, the U.S. Federal Government was assessed a fine of 24,000 Philippine pesos (about US$600) per square meter.[22] With additions for other violations, the total fine came to slightly less than 60 million pesos or about 1.4 million U.S. dollars.[22] The U.S. Federal Government has apologized for the incident and have relieved from duty four officers, Lt. Cmdr. Mark A. Rice, his executive officer and navigator Lt. Daniel Tyler, the ship’s assistant navigator and the officer of the deck at the time of the mishap.[22][23] “The initial investigation findings clearly indicate that (the four) at the time of the grounding did not adhere to standard US Navy navigation procedures,” the Manila Bulletin quoted the U.S. Navy as saying.[23] The U.S. Government has acknowledged that the grounding was entirely preventable and caused by human error and a failure of leadership to provide adequate oversight and direction in planning and executing the Navigation Plan.[24][25]

On April 8, 2013 it was reported that the U.S. Navy had turned over digital navigation charts and other relevant documents and data of the Guardian to the Philippine Maritime Casualty Investigating Team (MCIT) and responded to various "technical and substantive" queries.[26] The MCIT will conduct its own independent investigation and make recommendations about how to avoid such incidents in the future.[26]

On July 26, 2013 it was reported that a chart produced by the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency was inaccurate by up to 8 nautical miles. This chart was used by the crew of the Guardian, and played a significant role in the grounding. However, it was also reported that significant errors by the crew and commanding officers should have noted the inaccuracies in comparison to other charts.[27]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "China's Port-Visit Denial Troubles Navy Admirals". 28 November 2007. p. A04. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/27/AR2007112702590.html. Retrieved 2007-11-29. 
  2. Elena L. Aben (17 January 2013). "US War Ship Runs Aground in Philippines". http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/390033/us-war-ship-runs-aground-philippines#.UPeohrvgGi8. Retrieved 19 January 2013. "The Guardian arrived last 13 January for a port call and fuel stop in Subic and was transiting the Sulu Sea on Thursday when she ran aground." 
  3. Bob Couttie (23 January 2013). "USS Guardian Not Warned Before Grounding". Maritime Accident Casebook. http://maritimeaccident.org/2013/01/uss-guardian-not-warned-before-grounding/. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  4. Agence France-Presse (17 January 2013). "US minesweeper stuck on reef off Philippines". ABC News. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-01-17/us-navy-ship-runs-aground-off-philippines/4469864. Retrieved 17 January 2013. 
  5. Ian Johnston (17 January 2013). "US Navy ship stuck on reef nearly a day after running aground off Philippines". NBC News. http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/17/16561758-us-navy-ship-stuck-on-reef-after-running-aground-off-philippines?lite. Retrieved 17 January 2013. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Brad Lendon (18 January 2013). "Crew evacuated from Navy minesweeper stuck on Philippine reef". CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/18/world/asia/navy-ship-aground/index.html?hpt=hp_t2. Retrieved 18 January 2013. 
  7. Agence France-Presse (17 January 2013). "U.S. Minesweeper Runs Aground in Philippines". Defense News. http://www.defensenews.com/article/20130117/DEFREG03/301170014/U-S-Minesweeper-Runs-Aground-Philippines?odyssey=nav%7Chead. Retrieved 17 January 2013. 
  8. Brad Lendon (25 January 2013). "U.S. warship must be lifted off Philippine reef Minesweeper grounded on reef last week, has taken on water". CNN. http://www.ktvz.com/news/U-S-warship-must-be-lifted-off-Philippine-reef/-/413192/18276914/-/ctcahv/-/index.html. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  9. "US Navy sends assessment team for extraction of marooned minesweeper". 19 January 2013. http://globalnation.inquirer.net/61933/us-navy-sends-assessment-team-for-extraction-of-marooned-minesweeper. Retrieved 22 January 2013. 
  10. Christpher P. Cavas (20 January 2013). "Stranded Navy Minesweeper Taking on Water". Navy Times. http://www.navytimes.com/news/2013/01/dn-stranded-navy-minesweeper-taking-on-water-012013. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  11. Brad Lendon (25 January 2013). "U.S. Navy warship will have to be lifted off Philippine reef". CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/25/world/asia/us-navy-ship-aground/index.html. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  12. Manila Bulletin (25 January 2013). "Grounded ‘USS Guardian’ Transferring Hazardous Materials; Fuel Draining Complete". Yahoo news. http://ph.news.yahoo.com/grounded-uss-guardian-transfering-hazardous-materials-fuel-draining-120023472.html. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  13. Brad Lendon (28 January 2013). "Seawater pumped into U.S. warship to keep it stable on reef". CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/28/world/asia/navy-ship-aground/index.html?hpt=hp_t4. Retrieved 28 January 2013. 
  14. Beth ford Roth (26 February 2013). "San Diego-Based USS Warrior To Replace USS Guardian". http://www.kpbs.org/news/2013/feb/26/san-diego-based-uss-warrior-replace-uss-guardian/. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  15. Luis Martinez (29 January 2013). "Stuck Minesweeper to Be Cut into Pieces". http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/01/stuck-minesweeper-to-be-cut-into-pieces/. Retrieved 8 February 2013. 
  16. Jim Gomez (31 March 2013). "U.S.S. Guardian Shipwreck: Navy Ship Removed From Philippines Reef". http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/31/uss-guardian-shipwreck-navy-ship-removed-philippines-reef_n_2988694.html. Retrieved 31 March 2013. 
  17. Floyd Whaley (1 February 2013). "U.S. Navy to Scrap Vessel Stuck on Philippine Reef". http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/02/01/world/asia/us-navy-to-scrap-vessel-stuck-on-philippine-reef.xml. Retrieved 8 February 2013. 
  18. Beth Ford Roth (22 February 2013). "Salavaging Of USS Guardian Starts Today (Video)". http://www.kpbs.org/news/2013/feb/22/salavaging-uss-guardian-start-friday/. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  19. "SALVAGE CREWS BREAK UP US NAVY SHIP IN PHILIPPINES". Yahoo News. 27 February 2013. http://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/-/world/16255464/salvage-crews-break-up-us-navy-ship-in-philippines/. Retrieved 27 February 2013. 
  20. "USS Guardian salvage workers make progress, remove bridge deck". 4 March 2013. http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/297547/news/regions/uss-guardian-salvage-workers-make-progress-remove-bridge-deck. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  21. Knight, Matt (30 March 2013). "Final piece of grounded USS Guardian lifted from Philippine reef". News Channel 3 (WTKR.com). http://wtkr.com/2013/03/30/final-piece-of-grounded-uss-guardian-lifted-from-philippine-reef/. Retrieved 31 March 2013. 
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 Yap, DJ (April 7, 2013). "‘Not a penny over $1.4M for Tubbataha damage’". http://globalnation.inquirer.net/71393/not-a-penny-over-1-4m-for-tubbataha-damage. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  23. 23.0 23.1 PNA (April 5, 2013). "4 Ex-USS guardian officers relieved". http://www.mb.com.ph/article.php?aid=6313&sid=1&subid=1#.UWOAQ6s42KR. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  24. "COMMAND INVESTIGATION INTO THE GROUNDING OF USS GUARDIAN (MCM 5) ON TUBBATAHA REEF, REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES THAT OCCURRED ON 17 JANUARY 2013". http://www.cpf.navy.mil/foia/reading-room/2013/06/uss-guardian-grounding.pdf. 
  25. "US Navy ship removed from Tubbataha Reef". Saturday, March 30, 2013. http://globalnation.inquirer.net/70661/us-navy-ship-removed-from-tubbataha-reef. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  26. 26.0 26.1 SDR/Sunnex (April 8, 2013). "US Navy turns over USS Guardian's data to Manila's probing team". http://www.sunstar.com.ph/breaking-news/2013/04/08/us-navy-turns-over-uss-guardians-data-manilas-probing-team-276573. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  27. http://breakingdefense.com/2013/07/26/untold-tale-behind-uss-guardian-reef-grounding-flawed-nga-map-data/

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