Wednesday, January 23, 2013

USS Guardian Grounding

Jan. 20, 2013 released by the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Command (AFP-WESCOM) taken on Jan. 19.
We are kind of late to the discussion, but it is slowly trending towards the nightmare scenario. The latest report is still valid, as today the Navy said the situation has not changed. From the Navy Times.
“Multiple spaces” are flooded aboard the minesweeper Guardian, still stranded on a reef in the Philippines since Jan. 17.

While the ship’s condition remains stable, a U.S. destroyer has arrived on the scene in the Sulu Sea and a salvage team headed by a rear admiral is being established as more ships and assets head to the area.

Weather conditions remain rough, and the ship, once pointed straight into the reef with her bow hard aground, has swung broadside on, where most of the starboard hull is in contact with the coral.

As of Saturday night Eastern Standard Time, the ship experienced a “slight increase to a port list,” according to the Navy. But as of Sunday night Philippine time, there was no evidence the ship was taking on more water. Concerns persist, however, that the ship will sustain further damage.

No injuries have been reported, and the entire crew of 79 sailors was taken off the ship Jan. 17. No one has been back on board the Guardian, the Navy confirmed.
The destroyer is USS Mustin (DDG 89) where Rear Admiral Thomas Carney has taken over as the on-site commander.

I'm not going to speculate cause and will wait for the investigation to run its course.

I hear nothing but great things about the CO. I do not know if it is still true, but it used to be that the navigator of the Minesweepers was the XO, but that was several years ago and the minesweeper I visited was using paper, not digital maps. This was also back when the mine ships were still homeported in Texas - much has changed with our nations mine ships since then, starting with the fact that nearly all of our Avenger class ships are now homeported overseas and the coastal minesweepers are long retired.

Speaking of digital maps, I look forward to the investigation explaining how the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) misplaced the Tabbataha Reef? This is just a mistake right, and not some very clever cyber sabotage? In cyber, the threat is not that someone will delete your data or steal your data - that kind of sabotage and espionage can be repaired and is in fact the kind of cyber capabilities the system is set up to protect itself against. No, the real cyber threat that keeps people up at night is when someone changes data in a way no one notices until it is too late. Stuxnet, often described as the first nasty cyber payload, didn't delete or steal information - Stuxnet changed the information in a covert way. That's the key distinction between the vast majority of cyber graffiti payloads and a legit cyber smart bomb. Hopefully the map issue at NGA is simply a mistake.

Another place for good pictures of USS Guardian (MCM 5) stuck on the reef can be found here.

The Philippines has fined the US Navy for destroying natural resources, which is clearly a political overreaction since we have no idea how much damage has actually been done, and it is hard to believe the fine is going to actually pay for any damages. For the record, the fine amounts to around $7,300 US for violation of at least five laws including unauthorized entry, non-payment of conservation fees, obstruction of law enforcement (we haven't allowed their park ranger on the ship), damage to the reef and destruction of resources. The fine is little more than a domestic political circus, and if it makes them feel better then I think they can go ahead and have their circus, because it certainly could be and still might get much worse....

because the ship isn't leaking oil or fuel, yet.

The good news is that no one was hurt. The bad news is the ship is in a very tough spot and may not survive this incident, and given the weather conditions any attempt to save the ship is almost certainly going to be dangerous. Keep everyone in your prayers as this plays out because mother ocean can be a bitch on a good day, and these aren't the good days in the history of USS Guardian (MCM 5).

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