Latest pics: Damaged Minesweeper GUARDIAN Still Stuck On The Reef

Seen on Jan. 22, the minesweeper USS GUARDIAN remains stranded on Tubattaha Reef in the Sulu Sea. Here, a U.S. Navy P-3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft flies overhead, surveying not only the ship but also looking for signs of fuel leaks. The Navy survey ship USNS BOWDITCH (T-AGS 62) stands by at left, while the Philippine Coast Guard ship BRP CORREGIDOR observes the scene at right. (U.S. Navy photo by Aircrewman Tactical Helicopters 3rd Class Geoffrey Trundell)

The minesweeper USS GUARDIAN (MCM 5) remains hard aground on Tubbataha Reef in the western Philippines, but as of Thursday morning, Jan. 24, according to the U. S. Navy, the ship shows no signs of further damage and there is no evidence of any fuel leak.

The Japan-based U.S. Seventh Fleet, to which the GUARDIAN is assigned, released several images of the wreck scene taken Jan. 22 and 23. They show the ship remains relatively intact, showing little topside disruption after several days of being pounded by waves and wind. The ship’s composite-construction hull has certainly suffered, however, from rolling on the reef since she struck in the early hours of Jan. 17

Rear Adm.  Thomas Carney, in charge of the salvage operation, was reported Jan. 24 by Agence France Presse as saying the salvage operation could take at least another two weeks, depending on weather conditions.

“The option that we hoped, to be able to tow the ship off the reef, is not available,” Carney said. “It’s too badly damaged. It’s got hull penetrations in several places, and there’s a significant amount of water inside the ship right now.”

The images show damage assessment teams working on the GUARDIAN. They’re looking at the ship’s condition inside and out and trying to determine the best way to get her off the coral reef.

An investigation into the incident remains ongoing, but Navy officials f0und the digital chart being used by the GUARDIAN at the time of the grounding incorrectly located the reef about eight nautical miles from its true position. The chart has since been corrected.

Topside gear on the GUARDIAN seems mostly in place in this Jan. 22 view. The ship struck the reef head on, but in the first 24 hours swung broadside on. The condition of the ship's composite construction hull is still being assessed. While the ship's crew was taken off for safety reasons late on Jan. 17, the GUARDIAN has not been abandoned and continues to fly the U.S. flag. (U.S. Navy photo by Aircrewman Tactical Helicopter 3rd Class Geoffrey Trudell)

Members of a U.S. Navy salvage team work on the GUARDIAN's foredeck on Jan. 23. Most of the ship's crew is being returned to the GUARDIAN's homeport of Sasebo, Japan, while a ten-member "command element" from the minesweeper remains on the scene. (U.S. Navy Photo by Aircrewman Tactical Helicopter 1st Class Dustin Phagan)

A salvage assessment team boards the stern of the GUARDIAN on Jan. 23. The aft deck is crowded with minesweeping gear, which still seems properly secured nearly a week after the ship became stranded. (U.S. Navy Photo by Aircrewman Tactical Helicopter 3rd Class Geoffrey Trudell)



Christopher P. Cavas
Follow me on

Christopher P. Cavas

If it's on, over, under or around the water, I write about it. Ships and aircraft, units, tactics, leadership, strategies, acquisition, politics, industry. In the USA and around the world.
Christopher P. Cavas
Follow me on