The U.S. Navy will hack apart a multimillion-dollar minesweeper ship caught on a coral reef in the Philippines, rather than risk further damage to the sensitive ecosystem.
The USS Guardian has become a political and logistical nightmare for the Navy since it ran aground on January 17 in the Sulu Sea.
Navy engineers decided their only option is to destroy the 225-foot ship by cutting it up and hauling it away on a barge, instead of trying to drag it off the reef.
Stuck: The USS Guardian, seen here today, is still caught on a coral reef in the Sulu Sea near the Philippines
Done for: The ship will be torn apart and destroyed to get it off the reef. The Navy says it does not want to risk more damage to the Tubbataha Reef
Dismantled: Crews worked to remove the fuel and any thing else aboard the ship that could pollute the waters of the treasured reef
The ship is 23 years old and one of just 14 of her type in the Navy.
The Philippine government is furious over the damage to the Tubbataha Reef, which is a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The government has demanded that the U.S. Navy do as much as possible to minimize damage to the coral.
'Tubbataha Reef is a treasure to the Philippine people, we absolutely understand her environmental importance,' Lieutenant Anthony Falvo, a spokesman for the Navy's Pacific Fleet, told MailOnline.
Additionally, engineers worry that the ship - which has a wood and fiberglass bottom - might no longer be seaworthy after its hull was punctured by the coral.
It's unclear how, exactly, the ship will be dismantled - it's something that the Navy has not done in recent memory - or perhaps ever, experts say.
Heavy lifter: The Navy has ordered the Smit Borneo (pictured) and the Smit Cyclone, to heavy lifting ships owned by a Dutch contractor, to assist in the cleanup
Clean up: The Malaysian tug Vos Apollo, foreground, was hired to pump the water off of the Guardian
The Navy has ordered two massive crane ships and a barge from the Dutch contractor Smit International to clean up and haul away the Navy vessel.
The Navy is still investigating how the ship, which is designed to seek and destroy marine mines, ran aground.
The ship has complex sonar systems that can detect mines beneath the surface of the water. It is unknown how the systems failed to detect the reef.
The Navy has said its maps placed the Tubbataha Reef eight nautical miles off from its actual location.
When training runs go bad: The Avenger-class ship (marked '5') 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
Location: The US Navy ship was minesweeping in the Sulu Sea, 400 miles southwest of Manila, in the Philippines
Lieutenant Commander Mark Rice was in charge of the of the ship when she hit the reef as she was sailing between Puerto Princesa and Indonesia on a routine patrol.
None of the 79 sailors about the ship were injured and all but ten of the crew was returned to the forward-deployment base in Sasebo, Japan.
Those ten sailors, including Lt Commander Rice, remained behind aboard the USS Mustin - a guided missile destroyer that is overseeing the cleanup operation.
Lt Falvo said the Navy would determine whether Lt Commander Rice will face disciplinary action after it concludes its investigation of the crash.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2270395/U-S-Navy-hack-minesweeper-ship-pieces-remove-sensitive-reef-near-Philippines.html#ixzz2JQZg6dlh
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