US Navy commander apologizes for ship stuck in reef
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - January 21, 2013 - 9:00pm

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - The commander of the United States Navy's 7th Fleet apologized for the damages inflicted by the mine countermeasures ship USS Guardian (MCM 5) on Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea in western Philippines.

"As a protector of the sea and a sailor myself, I greatly regret any damage this incident has caused to the Tubbataha Reef," said Vice Adm. Scott Swift in a statement dated Jan. 20 posted on the website of the US Navy's 7th Fleet.

"We know the significance of the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park and its importance as a World Heritage Site. Its protection is vital, and we take seriously our obligations to protect and preserve the maritime environment," Swift added.

He also announced that Rear Adm. Thomas Carney, Commander of Logistics Group Western Pacific, will take over as the on-scene commander to oversee recovery operations for the USS Guardian.

Carney will embark the destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89) to prevent any further environmental damage to the reef and surrounding marine environment.

Due to a concern for personnel safety caused by hazardous weather conditions and poor sea states, Swift said essential Navy crew members have not yet returned to survey Guardian.

"Once the survey is complete, recovery efforts will commence," he said.

The US government assured that it will continue to work with the Philippine government to assess the extent of the damage to the reef and the surrounding marine environment caused by the grounding.

The US Navy is conducting an investigation on the incident and is looking at faulty digital chart as the cause of the ship's grounding.

The minesweeper ran aground after a port call at the Subic Bay in northern Philippines. It was transiting Sulu Sea and was en route to Indonesia when the incident occurred on Jan. 17. The USS Guardian remains stuck at the Tubbataha Reef.
 

COMMANDER OF LOGISTICS GROUP WESTERN PACIFIC JAN REAR ADM SCOTT SWIFT SUBIC BAY SULU SEA THOMAS CARNEY TUBBATAHA REEF TUBBATAHA REEFS NATURAL PARK UNITED STATES NAVY VICE ADM
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