USS Guardian (MCM 5) steams out of Sasebo Bay, Japan. U.S. Navy photo by Photographers Mate 2nd Class Jonathan R. Kulp.

USS Guardian (MCM 5) ran aground on Tubbataha Reef at 2:25 a.m. local time, Jan. 17, while transiting the Sulu Sea in the Philippines, according to a statement from the US Navy. The US Navy minesweeper ship ran aground while en route to India from Subic Bay. The ship remains stuck on Tubbataha Reef, about 80 miles southeast of Palawan Island, Philippines.

USS Guardian aground. Photo via gCaptain

While the grounding is under investigation, initial assessments found no oil or fuel leakage from the ship and there were no injuries reported. The ship is carrying 81 crew; 6 officers and 75 enlisted sailors.

The USS Guardian, a U.S. Navy minesweeper, is seen at the Vicinity of South Islet in Tubbataha Reefs after it ran aground at Palawan province, west of Manila January 17, 2013 in this handout picture distributed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines on January 18, 2013. REUTERS/Armed Forces of the Philippines/Handout. Photo via gCaptain

From U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs: YOKOSUKA, Japan – In order to ensure the safety of the crew, most of the Sailors aboard the mine countermeasures ship USS Guardian (MCM 5) are being transferred to a support vessel. The Sasebo-based Guardian ran aground on Tubbataha Reef while transiting the Sulu Sea on Jan. 17.

Initial efforts to free Guardian on high tide were not successful. As a precautionary measure, 72 of 79 total crewmembers are currently being transferred by small boat to the MV C-Champion, a Military Sealift Command chartered ship. The transfer operation is expected to be complete at approximately 2 pm, local time.

A small complement of engineering and bridge personnel will remain aboard and work with a U.S. Navy team in an attempt to free Guardian with minimal environmental impact. The remaining seven Sailors, which include the commanding officer and executive officer, will also be transferred if conditions become unsafe.

by Mai Armstrong for Working Harbor Committee
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