USS Guardian – An Update

| January 24, 2013 | 21 Comments

I wrote a few days ago about the USS Guardian running aground near the Philippines.  The latest word is that the ship is taking on water, the crew has been evacuated, and that the ship will have to be “lifted off the rocks” in order to be freed.  It will reportedly take another week or two to free the ship.

That’s not good.

The grounding occurred in an offshore area of the Philippines that has been declared a marine park and a World-Heritage site.  Another report indicates that the ship ignored radio warnings from Philippine park rangers that they were nearing the park, refused to let Philippine Park rangers permission to board in order to check paperwork, and told the park rangers to take their complaints “to the US Embassy.” (This second report is from what appears to be a blatantly anti-American source, so it’s perhaps best taken with the proverbial grain of salt.)

It’s beginning to look like s fair number of people on that ship might want to start working on resumes.

Category: Military issues, Navy, Politics

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  1. Ex-PH2 says:

    The real question is this: If they were leaving Subic Bay bound for port in India, then why did they go through the Sulu Sea, which is loaded with reefs and shoals that are visible to the naked eye even on one of Microsoft’s not-so-hot aerial maps?

    Why did they not just go on through the South China Sea?

    No matter whether they went through Sulu Sea or South China Sea, they still had to find their way through the Straits of Malacca or between Java and Sumatra.

    Or if they didn’t want to do that, then backtrack through the Pacific, bypass Papua/New Guinea, and on through the Timor Sea to India.

    This is just plain dumb. And it’s your tax money that pays for it.

  2. Scott says:

    They were en route to Indonesia.

    The accident was caused by a navigation error based upon faulty charts issued by the Philippine Gov’t.

    On the Navy boards the consensus is that the crew, to include the Capt, should not be held responsible for bad charts.

    Past history bears this out, however in today’s Navy Command climate no mistakes are allowed…

  3. Blackshoe says:

    From my fellow SWOs out there, this is still sounding like the one situation that isn’t going to be (mostly) the crews’ fault in the end. Might not help them much.

    I want to hear the transcripts of the conversations on BtB with the PI Park Rangers before I pass any judgement on that factor. Even if they were told they were sailing into danger, the response would be to check our charts…which would say we aren’t.

    And as far as not letting the Park Ranger aboard…there’s very good reasons to not do that, as well. Normal SOP would be for them to work down through Embassy channels and/or mil-mil LNOs, and the RP version of Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane doesn’t get to just come aboard sovereign US territory just because he says so. If we were talking about countries with less corrupt governments than the PI, we might be able to deal with this differently (see also my old ship the USS BARRY’s grounding in Samsun, Turkey, in 2008 or so. CO didn’t get relieved, there, FWIW).

  4. Blackshoe says:

    Addendum: though as far as the CO being relieved of command…it’s doubtful he’s going to have a command to be relieved from at this point. I don’t think we’re getting GUA back… :(

  5. USMCE8Ret says:

    But before they start working on their resumes, they may want to find a good attorney to help ‘splain why the ship was run aground. I’m no sailor or ships captain, but I can attest from my own service and experience close to the sea that running a ship on a coral reef or otherwise banging into something usually results in the abrupt ending of a career.

    In response to #2, I’m curious if the ship and crew had traversed that area of water before, and had prior knowledge of the risks involved – bad charts or not? I’m sure the BOI will determine that, and we’ll have to just wait and see.

  6. PavePusher says:

    @ #3: In the Air Force, if someone tells us we’re about to hit something, we generally stop or turn around, not keep going to find out if it’s true….

    Just sayin’…. 8>)

  7. NHSparky says:

    Well, case in point–the San Fran smacked an uncharted sea mount a while back doing a flank bell. Lost one of the crew in that one.

    Still didn’t save the CO’s career. Bend the boat, consider your career over.

    Oh, and the CO in this case had been the XO for a year prior to taking over, and on minesweepers, XO pulls double duty as the NAV.

    Oh shits all the way around.

  8. Nik says:

    @2

    On the Navy boards the consensus is that the crew, to include the Capt, should not be held responsible for bad charts.

    While that may be true. It may well be that it wasn’t anyone’s fault, dollars to donuts that at least one ass ends up in a sling over this. At least one.

  9. AndyFMF says:

    The walls have told me that the ship will be cut in half and “recovered”. Stricken from the rolls……

  10. Hondo says:

    Cut in half and stricken from the rolls . . . oh boy. If true, that really ain’t good.

  11. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    MCPO’s decree … CO, OOD, TAC ACT O, CIC Watch O, and anyone else who had combat, navigation, and or operational control of the ship leading up to and including the event shall be relieved of duty immediately … hence forth and hither to. By my name and on this date of 25 JAN 2013.

  12. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    Fogivith me … I forgetith thy NAV O.

    Shittith … fire thy ENG O as well!

  13. marvin says:

    MCPO – Please review Naval History, About 100 years ago, a LT ran his ship aground in the Philippines, after the Courts-Martial dismissed the charges due to the faulty navigation charts – Lt Chester Nimitz continued his naval career.

    The US Navy does not allow a foreign power onboard to inspect our ships.

    Upon being told they were standing into danger, they should have checked their charts, and they would have assumed the PI Ranger was incorrect.

    At night, and from a low height of eye, the reef may not be detectable — The CO and crew had better hope that is the case.

  14. LastLiberalRepublican says:

    It can be interesting to google “Honda Point Disaster.” Navy commodore in 1923 ran seven ships on the rocks in heavy weather but survived his court martial.

  15. Hondo says:

    @13, 14: both of you are correct. But I’ll observe that the most recent of those incidents was around 90 years ago.

    Quite a bit has changed in the past 90 years. I’m not liking the odds on the CO/XO/most of the key players coming out of this with careers intact.

  16. Devtun says:

    Sometimes miracles do happen or timely intervention from upper echelons….

    Fmr CJCS ADM Mike Mullen as a JO commanded a gasoline tanker in early 70s and his vessel hit a buoy in Mediterranean. He was relieved and received a deragatory FITREP…career took big hit, but with help of powerful seadaddies, he was able to salvage his career and get additional commands later.

    ADM Robert Kelly, as a CAPT commanding the USS Enterprise in 1983 ran aground on a sandbar in San Francisco Bay and was stuck for several hours…he advanced to 4 stars and was Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

  17. Hondo says:

    Devtun: yeah, it’s theoretically possible the key players here could come out of this with careers intact. But that’s not a bet I’d make at this point, particularly if the ship ends up a loss.

  18. Devtun says:

    Yep, with the fierce competition for upward mobility, why should the Navy keep and promote an officer w/ a blemish, when there so many other Os w/ solid squeaky clean records to choose from…may not be a zero defects Navy, but its pretty darn close.

  19. Ex-PH2 says:

    Stricken from the rolls? The Kraken has risen to seize its prey.

    Below the thunders of the upper deep;
    Far far beneath in the abysmal sea,
    His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
    The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
    About his shadowy sides; above him swell
    Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
    And far away into the sickly light,
    From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
    Unnumber’d and enormous polypi
    Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
    There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
    Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep,
    Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
    Then once by man and angels to be seen,
    In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

    –Tennyson

  20. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    @ 13 marvin Says:
    January 25th, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    I am the absolute authority on NAVAL HISTORY and TRADITIONS.

    I do not need to look ANYTHING UP!

    Have a nice day, I am watching ROSIE re-runs all day!

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