Follow us on Twitter Follow us on LinkedIn Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram Visit the TPC Store
Search the site




Coatings Industry News

Main News Page

Navy to Scrap Stuck $277M Vessel

Monday, February 4, 2013

More items for Health & Safety

Comment | More

Hopelessly beached on a reef in the Philippines for more than two weeks, the $277 million USS Guardian minesweeper will be cut to pieces in order to free it, the U.S. Navy has decided.

The Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship ran aground Jan. 17 on the environmentally sensitive Tubbataha Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Philippines natural park in the Sulu Sea. The ship was then pushed further onto the reef and battered by waves.

USS Guardian salvage operation
Photos: U.S. Navy

A U.S. Navy salvage assessment team boards the USS Guardian on Jan. 23 in the Sulu Sea.

None of the 79 crew members aboard the ship were injured, and no fuel has seeped into the reef, the Navy said. However, the United States may face fines from the Philippine government for the accident.

Vessel Already 'a Loss'

The United States is now seeking permission from the Philippine Coast Guard to dismantle the 224-foot, wood-and-fiberglass-hulled ship. The Navy had pumped seawater into the ship's tanks to keep it stable while salvage decisions were being made.

The Navy had hoped after the accident to lift the ship from the reef in one piece during high tide. However, authorities have concluded that that is not possible.

Dismantling the ship will avoid further damage to coral in the area, said Lt. Cmdr. James Stockman, a Navy public affairs officer.

The accident punctured the ship's hull. The initial focus of the investigation is on navigation charts.

"The plan is to dismantle the ship into three pieces and remove the sections by crane," said Stockman. "It has taken a beating by the waves and has taken on water. The vessel was already a loss."

Punctures and Protests

The ship's hull, which is covered in fiberglass, was punctured in the accident, flooding parts of the ship. The Navy contracted a Malaysian tug to transfer the 15,000 gallons of diesel fuel on board.

As part of the salvage effort, the Navy removed hazardous and other materials that might damage the reef, including 671 gallons of lubricating oil and paints and solvents contained in storage lockers.

Lt. Anthony Falvo, a U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet spokesman in Pearl Harbor, HI, told CNN on Wednesday (Jan. 27) that Navy salvage experts are still formulating the details of how they'll cut up the 1,312-ton minesweeper.

Two large cranes are en route to the ship now. The process of tearing it down is expected to take a month.

Philippine protest

The ship's grounding on an environmentally sensitive reef has sparked demonstrations in Manila.

The incident has sparked protests at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, where demonstrators splattered anti-riot police with paint.

Potential Fines, Mismarked Charts

As Philippine officials look into several potential fines against the U.S., the Navy is investigating the cause of the accident, including the possibility of inaccurate digital navigation charts.

A preliminary Navy review found that the digital chart the crew was using inaccurately listed the reef's location by eight miles.

USS Guardian

The Navy had hoped to retrieve the ship in one piece, but waves pushed the vessel higher onto the reef, puncturing the hull and causing leaks. The U.S. may be fined for the environmental damage.

In addition, the Navy vessel committed at least three legal violations, according to Grace Barber, an administrator with the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park. The ship operators did not obtain permission to enter the park, did not pay the entry fee, and obstructed work of park rangers, said Barber.

The U.S. could be fined $300 per square meter of damage done to the reef, which is home to more than 350 species of coral and almost 500 types of fish, according to UNESCO. About 1,000 square meters of the reef has been damaged, authorities say.

Navy Apology

The ship's grounding is not unprecedented. In August 1971, the supply ship USS Regulus grounded in Hong Kong harbor during Typhoon Rose, Falvo said. It took more than a month to cut that vessel up and remove it, he said. A similar operation was also conducted in 1916, he said.

Philippine Coast Guard diver

A diver from the Philippine coast guard measures coral damage Jan. 22 on the Tubbataha Reef.

The Navy has apologized for the incident.

"As a protector of the sea and a sailor myself, I greatly regret any damage this incident has caused the Tubbataha Reef," said Vice Adm. Scott Swift, the U.S. 7th Fleet commander, in a report posted on a Navy website.

"We know the significance of the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park and its importance as a World Heritage Site. Its protection is vital, and we take seriously our obligations to protect and preserve the maritime environment."


Tagged categories: Marine; Marine Coatings; Regulations; U.S. Navy

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (2/4/2013, 9:55 AM)

"The map is not the territory."

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

Clemco Industries Corp.
Maximum Dust Suppression Systems Start at $14,950
The system comprises proven technology and equipment with user-friendly flexibility in mind. See it in action.

Detail Masters
Overspray Removal
We offer professional, turnkey service and unparalleled quality!
Our process can save hundreds— even thousands of dollars. It's fast, environmentally safe and 100% guaranteed.

Tarps manufacturing, Inc.
QUALITY MADE IN AMERICA —Available near you!
CLICK to get a behind-the-scenes look at how Tarps Manufacturing makes the highest-quality tarps right here in the USA — available nationwide.

Safway Services
Safeguard Assets. Ensure Productivity. HAKI®
Protect assets and equipment. Keep facilities open and operational. Maintain schedules regardless of weather. Ensure smooth and continuous production. Easy to erect. Safway is the primary distributor of HAKI® products including HAKISPAN and HAKITEC® 750 – in North America.

Strategic Materials Inc.
TruAbrasives™, a clean crushed glass abrasive superior to other abrasives for performance, health, and environmental benefits.

PPG Protective and Marine Coatings Group
We Protect and Beautify the World
PPG is widely recognized as a world leader in protective and marine coatings, developing innovative, cutting-edge products and services.

Upgrade with the Bullard GenVX
Click here for your blast helmet.

Blastox/The TDJ Group, Inc.
Blastox® - One Step Lead Abatement
Sandblast additive delivered to jobsite pre-blended to eliminate hazardous abrasive wastes. Why mix, meter or apply at the job-site? Blast with ease and
Let your painters paint!

Dehumidification, Power and Temperature Control Rentals
Aggreko offers rental solutions for your painting/coating project. Dehumidifiers, cooling, heating, power and 24/7 service, nationwide.

US Minerals
Hit Harder. Clean Faster.
Black Diamond abrasive products are the toughest, most effective blasting media and supply the superior power you need to get any job done.


Technology Publishing Co., 1501 Reedsdale Street, Suite 2008, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

TEL 1-412-431-8300  • FAX  1-412-431-5428  •  EMAIL

The Technology Publishing Network

Durability + Design PaintSquare the Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings Paint BidTracker

EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About   |   Privacy policy   |   Terms & conditions   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us