Navy officers removed after grounding ship

April 4, 2013 at 8:52 AM

WASHINGTON, April 4 (UPI) -- Officers in command of a U.S. minesweeper that ran aground and damaged a coral reef in the Philippines have been relieved of duty, Navy officials said Thursday.

Lt. Cmdr. Mark Rice, Executive Officer Daniel Tyler, the ship's enlisted assistant navigator and the officer of the deck at the time of the USS Guardian's grounding were relieved of duty because they "did not adhere to the standard Navy navigation procedures," Lt. Brian Wierzbicki, spokesman for Expeditionary Strike Group Seven, said.

Rear Adm. Jeffrey Harley, commander of the Amphibious Force 7th Fleet in Sasebo, Japan, relieved the four men of duty, citing a "loss of confidence" in the sailors.

The men were reassigned to the strike group's headquarters in Sasebo to await a full investigation into the Jan. 17 incident, Stars and Stripes reported.

The 224-foot Guardian ran aground on the Tubbataha Reef, a United Nations World Heritage Site. Before it was dismantled and removed, the ship slid around the reef, causing damage.

The cost of dismantling the ship was about $25 million, Navy officials said. The final pieces were removed Saturday, Stars and Stripes said.

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