Stuck Minesweeper to Be Cut Into Pieces

Unable to tow the minesweeper USS Guardian off a reef in the Philippines, the Navy has decided that the only way to free the ship without causing further damage to the reef is to cut the ship into pieces.

That basically means the USS Guardian will no longer exist as a Navy vessel and will be taken off the Navy's ship roster.
The 23-year-old Avenger class minesweeper USS Guardian ran aground on Tubbataha Reef the night of Jan. 17 as the ship crossed the Sulu Sea. The reef, located about 400 miles south of Manila, is both a Philippines natural park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Days after the incident the commander of the Navy's Seventh Fleet issued an apology to the Philippine government.

In the days since, the Navy was unable to tow the ship off the reef as poor sea conditions complicated the salvage effort. Capt. Darryn James, spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, told ABC News that the Navy now plans to cut the ship into pieces to get it off the reef. Two heavy lift ship-borne cranes will arrive at the scene by Friday to begin to salvage the ship. The process is expected to take a month.

"The ship is badly damaged," said James. According to James the team of naval architecture and salvage efforts working to free the minesweeper determined that "after a full review of all possible alternatives, our only viable option is to dismantle the damaged ship and remove it in sections."

James said the decision "keeps the cranes in deeper water to minimize coral damage." He added, "We are developing a thoughtful and deliberate plan to safely remove individual sections of the ship without causing the release of harmful materials."

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