News Item

Chart grounds US warship

A chart that mislocated a marine sanctuary may have caused a USN minesweeper to run aground on a coral reef in the Philippines.

The minesweeper USS Guardian ran aground off Tubbataha Reef - a World Heritage Site in the Sulu Sea - 350 NM southwest of Manila. It struck the reef with its bow at 0200 local on 17 January, having just completed a port call to Subic Bay and en route to Indonesia.

No injuries were reported amongst the 79 crew, who were taken off the ship. The USN Pacific Fleet, based in Hawaii, has confirmed that its ships, along with several support vessels, were conducting salvage operations to minimize environmental effects on the reef.

The USN has stated that a review of Digital Nautical Charts - used for navigation by all US Navy ships - found that they contained inaccurate data and may have been a factor in the Guardian's grounding.

As a result, the Navigator of the Navy released precautionary guidance to all Pacific Fleet ships - stating that 'initial review of navigation data indicates an error in the location of Tubbataha Reef'.

A Pacific Fleet spokesman stated 'While the erroneous navigation chart data is important information, no-one should jump to conclusions. It is critical that the US Navy conduct a comprehensive investigation that assesses all the facts surrounding the Guardian grounding.'

The World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines has stated that, according to an initial visual inspection, the 68 m, 1,300-ton Guardian damaged at least 10 m of the reef.

Details from the Miami Herald below . .

  • 20 January 2013
  • MTNG

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