USS Guardian to be dismantled after running aground on Philippines’ Tubbataha Reef
The U.S. Navy minesweeper USS Guardian, top, is seen stranded on the Tubbataha Reef, a World Heritage Site in the Sulu Sea 400 miles southwest of Manila, Philippines, Jan. 25, 2013, in this picture released by the Tubbataha Management Office. / AP Photo/Tubbataha Management Office
MANILA, Philippines The U.S. Navy said Wednesday that it would dismantle a minesweeper that ran aground on a coral reef in the Philippines after carefully studying all options on how to remove the damaged ship.
Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. James Stockman said dismantling the USS Guardian was determined to be the solution that would involve the least damage to the Tubbataha Reef, a protected marine sanctuary where the ship got stuck Jan. 17.
He said the Philippine coast guard was reviewing the plan, but gave no other details.
The Navy had said previously that the Guardian would be lifted by crane onto a barge and taken to a shipyard, but apparently the damage was too extensive and it will have to be cut up and removed in pieces. Stockman gave no time frame for the operation.
The grounding caused no casualties to the ship’s 79 crew and officers, who were taken off the vessel after it crashed into the reef in shallow waters. The ship began listing and taking on water through holes in the wooden hull. The Navy’s support vessels siphoned off remaining fuel and salvage teams removed heavy equipment and hazardous material.
The Navy is investigating the incident, which caused Philippine government agencies and environmentalists to express concern about the extent of damage to the coral reef.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said last week that the U.S. Navy must explain how the ship got off course. He said the Navy would face fines for damaging the environment.
Rear Adm. Thomas Carney, commander of the Navy’s Logistics Group in the Western Pacific, told reporters last week that the investigation would look into all the factors that may have led to the grounding, including a reported faulty digital chart, sea conditions, weather and the state of the ship’s navigational equipment.
The Navy and the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines, Harry K. Thomas, have apologized for the grounding and promised to cooperate with its close ally.
Source – CBS News
MANILA – The problem with the grounded US Navy ship is still ongoing, and many questions as to why it had sailed there in the first place and what will happen to it and the reef are still unanswered, yet, here comes another US military ship, a nuclear-powered submarine, docking in Subic Bay, Zambales, the former US military base shuttered by popular demand in 1992. The docking, as expected, drew protests.
“The presence of a US nuclear-powered ship at Subic clearly violates the nuclear- free provision of the 1987 Philippine Constitution as well as Art. II sec. 7, which requires an independent foreign policy that prioritizes national interest,” said Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Neri Colmenares.
The USS Cheyenne is described by the US Pacific Command as a Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarine capable of launching Tomahawk missiles, which are long- range rockets that can be armed with nuclear warheads. In fact, it is being described as one of the most capable nuclear attack submarines in the world today. For Malacañang to grant it a diplomatic pass to enter Philippine waters and dock at Subic Bay, is viewed by various groups as “callous.”
Malacañang justifies this by saying that it merely a “nuclear-powered” ship and, thus, not covered by the prohibition of the 1987 Constitution against the entry and stockpiling of nuclear weapons.
“Aquino’s callous permission for and defense of the entry of this nuclear-powered submarine into our country shows the world just how unthinking his obedience to the US is,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, chairman of Kilusang Mayo Uno, in a statement. As the USS Cheyenne is also headed to the same path taken by the USS Guardian, critics such as the KMU now ask: “What is the US up to this time?”
“Every American warship that docks in the Philippines reduces the country to a military outpost of the US in the Asia-Pacific region and likewise reveals the farcical claims of Philippine sovereignty by the puppet Philippine government,” the CPP said in a statement. They warned that the rising number of US naval vessels that dock and patrol in Philippine seas increases as well the possibility of more environmental damage such as the destruction of the Tubbataha corals and the reported dumping of human and toxic waste off the coast of Subic last year.
In 2012, US ships made 197 port calls in the Philippines, while some 444 American aircraft were cleared for landing in the country’s airports, the Department of Foreign Affairs said. It represented a more than four- fold increase from the recorded arrivals in 2010 and 2011.
Source – Bulatlat