That is the question facing the chain of command of the former CO of the USS Guardian.  Defense News reports, here, that the grounded minesweeper will be dismantled piece by piece and removed from a reef in the Phillipines.  The cause appears to be faulty digital navigation charts:

The U.S. Navy also revealed Jan. 18 that the digital navigational chart in use by the Guardian misplaced the correct location of the reef by about eight nautical miles. The Navy and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, producer of the digital charts, reviewed more then 3,700 digital charts and, in addition to the Tubbataha Reef error, found another mistake off the coast of Chile. Both errors have since been corrected, and the Navy’s chief navigation official has declared his confidence in the accuracy of the digital charts.

But, still, dismantling your ship?  Yikes!

12 Responses to “What Do You Get When Your Ship Has to Be Dismantled?”

  1. SgtDad says:

    Does this mean the Captain will not be relieved?

  2. Cloudesley Shovell says:

    Captain relies on faulty navigation, then (according to the linked article), ignores warnings from locals that he was heading for a reef.  Who could imagine such a thing happening?
    I say he gets an emerald ring and a nice monument near a local cove commemorating his somewhat truncated Navy career.

  3. John O'Connor says:

    Sir Cloudesley, there’s hope for you yet.

  4. Cloudesley Shovell says:

    J O’C: As a wise philosopher once remarked, don’t rush to judgment on something like that until all the facts are in.
    On a completely serious note, the captain of the USS Guardian is doomed.  He may well finish out his 20 years, but that’s it.  He can talk to Captain Timothy Dorsey his chances of making flag.

  5. SgtDad says:

    By “doomed,” I presume you mean “beached,”. That said, I feel for the guy.  I recall wrestling with maps in the RVN that were often off by 200m or so.  no GPS for us in those days.  How does a captain wrestle with local knowledge vs digital charts?

  6. Cloudesley Shovell says:

    SgtDad, yes, not doomed really, he just won’t be moving on to positions of greater responsibility and rank.  Regardless of fault, the image of one’s command stuck on a reef waiting to be broken up is awfully hard to overcome.
    On the other hand, then-Captain Robert Kelly grounded his aircraft carrier in San Fransisco Bay and went on to four stars, only to be forced to retire in the wake of Tailhook.

  7. stewie says:

    That, if true, seems quite insane to me.  It’s like blaming someone because for a force of nature.  This isn’t like land nav where if your GPS goes out you can still avoid obstacles, because well they aren’t covered in ocean and whatnot.
    It’s not like the guy beached his ship on the actual beach. I guess I’m a softie.

  8. Zachary Spilman says:

    The Guardian, a mine countermeasures ship built of composite materials, is a small ship by U.S. Navy standards, with a full load displacement of 1,312 tons, a length of 224 feet and beam of 39 feet. It is the fifth of 14 Avenger-class ships and was commissioned in 1989.

    The ship has been assigned to the U.S. Seventh Fleet for most of her career and is forward-deployed to Sasebo, Japan.

    The Guardian’s hull, according to the Navy, has been punctured by the coral, and several compartments have been flooded. Most of the fiberglass on the ship’s port side has delaminated and come off, revealing the ship’s wooden hull.

    As the owner of a moderately-sized fiberglass (sail)boat, I can comfortably say that I’d never want to go to war in something built of resin and glass mat. I’d particularly like to avoid going to war on a minesweeper built of resin and glass mat.

    But this does explain the salvage plan. They can’t just drag her off the reef (like a steel hull), because the “composite” (fiberglass) hull will tear. Also, the “dismantling” is probably going to take the form of a crushing from above by the salvage cranes.

    I would like to know more about the “delaminat[ion].” Not a good word when dealing with fiberglass.

  9. SFC V says:

    Apparently the first minesweeper were developed by the British Navy during the crimean war.  They consisted of row boats trailing grapnels to snag the mines.
    How would you like to be the guys in the row boats?   “Now, what we gonna do is….”  

  10. D Wright says:

    Well the Navy pilot who shot down an American AF aircraft resulting in lifelong injuries to the AF pilot managed to climb the career ladder and is now pending confirmation for Admiral.  

  11. Some Army Guy says:

    The advantage of fiberglass/wood over more traditional ship-building materials is that the fiberglass and wood won’t set off a magnetic mine.
    And I assume that the flexing capacity of fiberglass could protect it from underwater explosions.
    On a related note, I remember reading once that the best wood for minesweepers used to come from Southeast Asia, but the many decades of war there left too many bullets and shrapnel in the wood to serve adequately as a minesweeper’s hull.  Not sure if that’s true, but I read it somewhere — and not on the interweb..

  12. Dew_Process says:

    Don’t forget that Fleet Admiral Nimitz as an Ensign grounded a ship [U.S.S. Decatur] in the Philippines as well.