The commanding officer and three crewmembers aboard a U.S. Navy minesweeper have been relieved of their duties amid an investigation into how the $300 million ship got stuck on a reef near the Philippines and had to be scuttled.
The USS Guardian became stuck on a reef in the Tubbataha National Marine Park, a World Heritage Site in the Sulu Sea some 400 miles southeast of Manila in January.
The Navy said in a statement that the officer and crewmembers were relieved because the ship’s grounding did not comply with its navigation procedures and accountability standards.
Last week, the Navy chopped the ship up into sections and removed it, turning a valuable ship into scrap metal.
“We’re paid to make sure that both the crew and that ship comes through harm’s way alright,” said Joe Sestak, a former Democrat Congressman from Pennsylvania and retired three-star admiral. “A mistake was made here.”
On Sunday, workers removed the last major part of the ship, and experts there are now assessing possible damage to the reef. Meanwhile, Navy investigators want to know what went wrong on Jan. 17. Initially the ship sustained minor damage, but before it could be towed off the reef, waves pushed the hull further onto the coral.
The guardian is one of only eight sweepers in the U.S. fleet. So far, the Navy blames faulty navigational maps for causing the ship to run aground. Its captain, Mark Rice, took command of the ship just three months before the accident. …