The 25-year-old U.S. navy minesweeper, the USS Guardian, ran aground near the Philippines at the Tubbataha Reef due to a problem with its mapping systems. The ship's systems located the reef elsewhere.
On April 3, Lt. Cmdr. Mark Rice, the Guardian's commanding officer, as well as the navigator, assistant navigator and officer standing watch at the time of the grounding were all relieved by Adm. Jeffrey Harley. Rice was to slated to take command of the Guardian's replacement.
Four fired for marooning minesweeper on ocean reef
[The officers] did not adhere to standard U.S. Navy navigation procedures.
- Navy investigation report
The 4 officers have been reassigned until the investigation is complete. Additionally, a spokesperson for Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said regarding the possibility of Philippine charges against Navy officials, "There must be accountability and we will enforce our existing laws."
US Navy relieves USS Guardian commander, 3 others over Tubbataha incident
As the hull has been removed, the team is now shifting their effort to collecting minor debris that remains on the reef… We also have a collaborative team from the U.S. and the Philippines beginning to assess the condition of the reef.
- Navy Capt. Mark Matthews, salvage effort leader
The final 250-ton stern section of the wrecked Navy vessel was removed the afternoon of Mar. 30. Capt. Matthews said the salvage operation represented "unique challenges," but teams did a "superb job."
The Philippines plans to ask the U.S. for compensation for damage to 43,000 square feet of the reef, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The U.S. ambassador said that the U.S. "will provide appropriate compensation."
Crews to begin removing parts of grounded U.S. Navy ship