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Dismantling beckons for stricken USS Guardian

United States – The US Navy is set to scrap its US$ 277 million minesweeper USS Guardian – the 23-year-old vessel which ran aground on a coral reef in the Philippines last month and has been stuck ever since. ‘The plan is to dismantle the ship into three pieces and remove the sections by crane,’ Navy Public Affairs Officer Lieutenant Commander James Stockman has told the New York Times.

The minesweeper is located atop the ‘environmentally sensitive’ Tubbataha Reef. As the USA could face a fine of US$ 300 per square metre of damage to this protected reef, the navy has requested permission from the Philippine Coast Guard to go ahead with dismantling.

The wooden-hulled ship is no longer seaworthy, asserts Lieutenant Commander Stockman, as it has ‘taken a beating’ from the waves and is largely filled with water. He adds that the US Navy has been working to salvage any reusable equipment, to retrieve the crew’s personal effects and to remove any potentially harmful materials, including petroleum-based products.

‘No fuel has leaked since the grounding and all of the approximately 15 000 gallons aboard the Guardian were safely transferred off the ship during two days of controlled de-fueling operations,’ the navy has stated. Two cranes are en route from Singapore for the scrapping process, which is expected to take more than a month to complete.

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