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Ship stuck in Philippines used faulty map, says U.S. Navy

By Hrvoje Hranjski

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 07:39 a.m. HST, Jan 19, 2013


MANILA, Philippines >> An inaccurate map that mislocated a marine sanctuary may have caused a U.S. Navy minesweeper to run aground on a coral reef in the Philippines this week, the Navy said today.

All 79 officers and crew of the USS Guardian were taken off the ship for safety reasons after it struck the reef with its bow at 2 a.m. Thursday. The Navy’s Pacific Fleet, based in Hawaii, said Saturday that its ships along with several support vessels continued to conduct salvage operations that minimize environmental effects to the reef.

The Navy said in a statement that a review of Digital Nautical Charts, which are used for safe navigation by all U.S. Navy ships, found they contained inaccurate data and may have been a factor in the Guardian’s grounding. As a result, Navigator of the Navy Rear Adm. Jonathan White released precautionary guidance to all Pacific Fleet ships, saying that “initial review of navigation data indicates an error in the location of Tubbataha Reef” in the Philippines.

“While the erroneous navigation chart data is important information, no one should jump to conclusions,” said Pacific Fleet spokesman Capt. Darryn James. “It is critical that the U.S. Navy conduct a comprehensive investigation that assesses all the facts surrounding the Guardian grounding.”

The Avenger-class ship had just completed a port call in Subic Bay, a former American naval base west of the capital, Manila, and was en route to Indonesia and then on to East Timor to participate in a training exercise when it hit the reef, about 128 kilometers (80 miles) southeast of Palawan Island.

The World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines said that according to an initial visual inspection, the 68-meter- (74-yard-) long, 1,300-ton Guardian damaged at least 10 meters (yards) of the reef, which UNESCO designated as a World Heritage Site. It is part of Southeast Asia’s Coral Triangle, a huge stretch of ocean that contains most of the world’s coral species, reefs, and more than 3,000 species of fish.

Angelique Songco, head of the government’s Protected Area Management Board, said the government imposes a fine of about $300 per square meter (yard) of damaged coral, plus other fees.

In 2005, the environmental group Greenpeace was fined almost $7,000 after its flagship struck a reef in the same area.

Songco blamed the Guardian for turning away park rangers who wanted to board the minesweeper, but the Navy said it was cooperating with the Philippine government, a key U.S. defense ally.

Presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte said the government will observe the law governing the Tubbataha Reef, but right now “the primary concern is extricating the ship out of the reef with minimal damage.”







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surfergirl808 wrote:
Wow, even if gps is wrong, it's no excuse.... especially for our navy ! We as mariners are taught early on never to rely solely on gps charts. You should always have the NOAH chart of an area out to compare with gps charts... always. Taught in boating 101.
on January 19,2013 | 07:31AM
turbolink wrote:
Well there's the problem...if they had a NOAH chart no wonder they got lost. Would have done much better with a NOAA chart...
on January 19,2013 | 08:12AM
MightyMakiki wrote:
Prudent navigation should have taken place. Lookouts. Radar. Range and Bearing Markers. A Quatermaster plotting all movements. GPS is fine, but prudent navigation is where the failure is. In Hawaii we have several chart datums, so GPS charting can also sway as much as several miles. Until modern charting and datum can be spread through out the Pacific.... and the world, follow the rules....
on January 19,2013 | 02:14PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
For $79.99 they could have bought a nice GPS from Costco.
on January 19,2013 | 07:54AM
cojef wrote:
Yep! Heads will roll and careers affected for all officers and crew members aboard the Guardian. Their careers will be such as, "oh you served on that tub that ran aground, what was her name? Yea the "Guardian"! Reality!
on January 19,2013 | 08:34AM
tasod wrote:
Yikes, I thought they were using Google maps. Anyways, if they were traveling during daylight the wave breaks in the photo are a good indication of a reef.
on January 19,2013 | 08:34AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
They had iPhones.
on January 19,2013 | 11:14AM
808comp wrote:
It happens to the best of them. Life, never a dull moment..Still have the best Navy in the world.
on January 19,2013 | 09:37AM
bumbye wrote:
Oops! And a big one too! In the Navy, you can sail the seven seas In the Navy, you can put your mind at ease (not) In the Navy, come on now, people, make a stand In the Navy, can't you see we need a hand (yes)
on January 19,2013 | 11:22AM
Papakolea wrote:
In addition to maps, maybe they should use, like computers or something.
on January 19,2013 | 03:53PM
honokai wrote:
Everyone should reserve judgment for now. This isn't the U.S. Navy destroyer minesweeper, the USS Caine.
on January 19,2013 | 07:42PM
808warriorfan wrote:
So will the Capt of the ship be the scapegoat of this ?????
on January 19,2013 | 08:46PM
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