Warship ex-'Guardian' Grounding Report Released

Thursday, June 20, 2013
ex-USS Guardian: Photo credit USN

The U.S. Navy has released the results of an investigation into the ex-USS Guardian grounding in Philippine waters on January 17, 2013.

Characterizing the ex-Guardian's grounding on Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea as a "tragic mishap," Adm. Cecil D. Haney, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, wrote in the 160-page document that "USS Guardian leadership and watch teams failed to adhere to prudent, safe, and sound navigation principles which would have alerted them to approaching dangers with sufficient time to take mitigating action." 

Haney further summarized that a "lack of leadership" led to the watch team's disregard of visual cues, electronic cues and alarms in the hours leading up to the grounding, and that an ultimate reliance on what would turn out to be inaccurate Digital Nautical Charts (DNC) during the planning and execution of the navigation plan ultimately led to a degradation of the ship's navigation ability.

Haney did however have words of praise for the "heroic efforts of the crew to save their ship." Highlighting the actions of the Engineering and Damage Control teams, Haney wrote that their efforts were instrumental in reinforcing the ship's hull integrity despite multiple breaches. He also commended the Boat Coxswains, Damage Control Assistant, and the Navy rescue swimmers who all ensured the safe evacuation of the crew without significant injuries.

The commanding officer of ex-Guardian, Lt. Cmdr. Mark Rice, the executive officer/navigator Lt. Daniel Tyler, the assistant navigator, and the officer of the deck at the time of the grounding were relieved of their duties on April 3 by Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7. Further administrative action is under consideration.

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