USS Guardian grounded on

USS Guardian hard aground on the Tubbataha Reef in the Philippines with her wooden hull exposed. U.S. Navy Photo

First too damaged to tow, now too damaged to lift…

It appears that further deterioration of the grounded USS Guardian on a reef in the Philippines has forced salvors to option c: breaking her up and taking her away piece by piece.

“Guardian is badly damaged and with the deteriorating integrity of the ship, the weight involved, and where it is grounded on the reef, dismantling in sections is the only supportable option,” said Capt. Darryn James, U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman. “We have the right team of experienced professionals to conduct this complex operation and to ensure that it is done safely while minimizing damage to the surrounding marine environment.”

New photos of the grounded minesweeper show the Guardian’s port side fiberglass siding completely stripped, revealing the ships wooden hull. The U.S. Navy has previously said that damage to the hull is causing the vessel to take on water.

Last week, the U.S. Navy scrapped plans to tow the vessel from the reef and said that the ship would have to be lifted off.

On January 25th, the U.S. Navy completed a two day operation to remove the 15,000 gallons of fuel and other contaminants such as grey water, CHT, paint and solvents, and even medical supplies from the vessel with help from the contracted VOS Apollo. Meanwhile, an inspection team has determined that approximately 1,000 square meters of corals have been severely damaged due to the incident.

The ship, with a crew of 80, had just completed a port call at Subic Bay in the Philippines when the ship ran aground on the Tubbataha Reef in the Philippines on January 17. The U.S. Navy has previously said that faulty digital chart data misplaced the location of Tubbataha Reef. The U.S. Navy has since apologized for the grounding.

The operation to remove the ship from the reef is expected to take about a month and floating cranes from SMIT Salvage, the Borneo, Cyclone, as well as the barge, SMIT Andaman are expected to arrive in the coming days according to Navy spokesperson Lieutenant AJ Falvo.

Full Coverage: USS Guardian Grounding

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