U.S. warship aground in Philippines had faulty map

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 Saturday

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 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 80 miles southeast of Palawan Island.

The World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines said that according to an initial inspection, the 74-yard-long, 1,300-ton Guardian damaged at least 10 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 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.”

More in Local News

Demolition begins, signaling start of courthouse remodel

The date for major construction was pushed back, but completion is still projected for 2021.

Police seek man after stabbing and robbery south of Everett

A convenience store clerk was slashed by a knife-wielding man at 8 a.m. Thursday morning.

Man jailed a month after police shooting

He has been under investigation for months on accusations of child molestation.

Man sentenced 24 years for trafficking in child porn

He also admitted sharing the images online while also amassing a digital collection.

Suspect identified in break-in and shooting

He fired one round into a television and more shots when an occupant tried to confront him outside.

Man, woman seriously injured in motorcycle crash

It appeared the motorcycle had been going at a high speed, according to the sheriff’s office.

Treatment center in north Everett could open in 2020

The 32-bed facility on 10th Street would serve people with addiction and mental illness.

Everett sculpture is hidden in not so plain sight

Nearly 40 years later, the artist is still concerned about placement of his work.

Council members back off land deal

A resolution directs staff to tell the state it no longer wants part of the Singletary harvest.

Most Read