Settlement Over American Naval Ship Pending in Philippines
Gerald Marchewka | 01.31.2013
US Navy Minesweeper Stranded on Coral Reef Near Philippines
On January 17th, 2013 the American minesweeper "Guardian" was found stranded after it struck a portion of the Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea approximately 80 km off the coast of Palawan. The U.S. Navy reported that the maritime accident occurred as a result of a digital error that failed to estimate the proper location of the area that had been declared a World Heritage Site. The ship had been docked at Olongopo City in Subic Bay and was traveling for Indonesia when the mishap took place.
Some local critics were outraged by the damage to the reef and were quick to frame the incident as an environmental issue rather than a maritime accident. The US Navy reported that the mistake occurred as the vessel's computer system indicated that the location of the reef was approximately eight nautical miles away from the area in which the ship hit the reef and was eventually stranded.
The "Guardian" is homeported in Sasebo, Japan where it is part of a larger minesweeping fleet that is situated at various strategic points across the globe. Typically, the vessel operates in relative obscurity as it monitors the safety of the sea and other important military maneuvers.
The incident occurs as the Philippine authorities are now engaged in prospective legal measures to protect its rights in a dispute with the People's Republic of China over the Spratly Islands. News sources in China say that the islands in dispute are an inseperable part of the PRC. Philippine authorities have however recently released a series of maps to protect its own sovereign territory.