Grounded Navy Ship to Be Dismantled

Wednesday, 30 Jan 2013 03:05 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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The U.S. Navy minesweeper stuck on a reef off the Philippines is a lost cause and will have to be dismantled and carted away in pieces, officials tell Stars and Stripes.

The complex procedure is expected to take more than a month and likely means the end of the 23-year-old USS Guardian, which measures 224 feet.

The cause of the accident is being probed, but Navy officials say digital nautical charts being used contained inaccurate data which may have been a contributing factor.

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“Our naval architecture and salvage experts have reviewed all possible alternatives,’’ Pacific Fleet spokesman Lt. Anthony Falvo told the U.S. military's daily newspaper.

“Our only supportable option is to dismantle the damaged ship and remove it in sections.”

Falvo said salvage experts will strive to “ensure that it is done safely while minimizing damage to the surrounding marine environment.’’

The ship, one of 14 Avenger-type minesweepers in the Navy, costs $5 million a year to operate. It ran aground on Tubbataha Reef on Jan. 17. None of the 79 crew members were injured.

Since then, the USS Guardian has shifted, causing damage to the reef. Crew members have been working to remove hazardous materials. The ship is one of four minesweepers stationed in Japan.


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