US Navy sacks 4 officers over Tubbataha grounding
MANILA, Philippines - The United States Pacific Fleet has fired 4 officers of the USS Guardian for failing to "adhere to standard US Navy navigation procedures" when the minesweeper ran aground the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Tubbataha Reef in January.
Navytimes.com reported that the relieved officers include commanding officer Lt Mark Rice, navigator and assistant navigator Lt Daniel Tyler, as well as an unnamed officer of the deck. The names of other sailors involved were not released.
The 4 officers have been temporarily reassigned to other duties.
Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Raul Hernandez welcomed the report.
"We take note of that report and we respect the decision of the relief of the officers and crew members by the US Navy as they did not adhere to the standard of US Navy navigation procedures based on the report of US Pacific fleet public affairs," Hernandez said.
A team from the Philippine government and major universities are conducting a probe to asses the damage caused by the incident. Hernandez said the results of the investigation will be independent from the US Navy findings.
"This is apart from our own independent investigation on the grounding of the vessel being conducted by the maritime casualty investigation team. Our independent investigation team is ongoing and we’ll come up with its own results," he said.
Salvage teams removed the last piece of USS Guardian on March 30. - with reports from Angela Casauay/Rappler.com