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Grounded Minesweeper Will Need To Be Broken Up; Ship Built In Sturgeon Bay


A Sturgeon Bay-built ship that's been grounded in the western Philippines for nearly two weeks will need to be cut up in order to be removed from the reef.

U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman Darryn James said Tuesday the "only supportable option is to dismantle the damaged ship and remove it in sections."

The USS Guardian was constructed at Peterson Shipbuilders in Sturgeon Bay and commissioned in 1989. Niles Weborg of Sister Bay was the head foreman of hull construction on the Guardian. Weborg says the 224-foot minesweeper was well-built and is surprised to hear it's not able to be salvaged.

The ship -- constructed of wood, silicon bronze and stainless steel -- went aground on the Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea January 17.

A story by the Navy Times says the Guardian's hull has been punctured by the coral and several compartments have been flooded, and that most of the fiberglass on the ship’s port side has delaminated and come off, revealing the ship’s wooden hull.

Weborg says the ship was built with very sophisticated equipment.

"I know when we did sea trials we'd take a garbage can cover in 900 feet of water and the sonar would hone in on it," he says.

The Filipino government has questioned why the ship was in the area -- a protected UNESCO world heritage site where routine ship traffic is prohibited -- and why the Guardian reportedly ignored warnings from local authorities that it was headed for the reef.

A U.S. Navy investigation into the incident is continuing.

Photo by the U.S. Navy


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