Green Navy: U.S. To Cut Up $277 Million Minesweeper Rather Than Further Damage Reef

220px-USS_Guardian_aground_in_January_2013While we often criticize our government on this blog, it is important to remember that there remains great differences between this government and those around the world in areas like the environment. In an extraordinary decision, the United States Navy has decided to disassemble the $277 million USS Guardian, an important minesweeper, rather than further damage a coral reef by pulling it off the reef. This follows an equally impressive approach to drilling in the Antarctic by U.S. explorers.

USS Guardian (MCM-5) is a U.S. Navy Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship commissioned on December 16, 1989.

The minesweeper will be cut into small pieces and removed to avoid further harm to the ecosystem after it ran aground. It appears that the digital navigational chart in use by the Guardian had the wrong location of the reef by about eight nautical miles.

While conservatives have portrayed this as an example of environmentalists gone wild in the Administration, reports indicated that the ship was likely beyond repair due to damage to the hull. However, many argued for the ship to be ripped from the reef so that possible repairs could be made.

However, there was clearly a great deal of consideration given to the Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea and the damage that would increase from pulling the ship free. There should be little doubt as to how Russia or China would respond to such a circumstance.

An example of the different approach to the environment is evident in recent drilling operations in the Antarctic by the U.S. and Russia. Despite scientific objections to the contamination of a deep lake, the Russians pumped in more than 14,000 gallons of kerosene and Freon into the over 2 mile drilling hole to keep its drill from freezing. They insist pressure will force out the pollutants when they break through — a view rejected as reckless by scientists. In comparison, the U.S. drilling operation into a deep lake involves feeding the drilling hose through a collar of ultraviolet lamps to kill 99.9 percent of all microorganisms.

The willingness to spend such money to protect environmentally sensitive areas should legitimately be a source of pride for Americans.

Source: CBS

23 thoughts on “Green Navy: U.S. To Cut Up $277 Million Minesweeper Rather Than Further Damage Reef

  1. The Oil-Qaeda of the U.S. have engineered the addiction to fossil fuels, and the U.S. Military is the number one addict to those fossil fuels.

    And it is hurting the Navy because their naval bases are going to be lost:

    Box also provided a large-scale perspective on how much sea level rise humanity has already probably set in motion from the burning of fossil fuels. The answer is staggering: 69 feet, including water from both Greenland and Antarctica, as well as other glaciers based on land from around the world.

    Scientists like Box aren’t sure precisely when, or how fast, all that water will flow into the seas. They only know that in past periods of Earth’s history, levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases and sea levels have followed one another closely, allowing an inference about where sea level is headed as it, in effect, catches up with the greenhouse gases we’ve unleashed. To be sure, the process will play out over vast time periods — but it has already begun, and sea level is starting to show a curve upward that looks a lot like…well, the semi-notorious “hockey stick.”

    (North To Davos Country, quoting Mother Jones). The real danger to reefs is ocean temperature rise caused by global warming induced climate change.

  2. @Dredd

    You’re quite right to point out the threat posed by ocean temperature. I would add to this the threat posed by increasing ocean acidification, due to carbon dioxide emissions.

    Some time back we got into a bit of a tussle. You made a gesture to make amends, which I ungraciously did not then accept, and it hasn’t sit right with me since. My apologies.

  3. Swarthmore mom 1, January 31, 2013 at 10:02 am

    The military is greener than most of the private sector.
    Gives new meaning to “greener”:

    “The DOD is the largest single consumer of energy in the United States and energy is the key enabler of US military combat power”

    (Department of Defense Energy Strategy, Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks, Gregory J. Lengyel, Colonel, USAF, August 2007). It is no piker on the world scene either:

    The United States Department of Defense is one of the largest single consumers of energy in the world, responsible for 93% of all US government fuel consumption in 2007 …


  4. I agree with you that the military is way,way,too large, but they are focusing on energy efficiency much more that the private sector is.

  5. Hmmmm….. A ship on reef….. Usually thought this was the crews duty…… It’s reefer madness gone wild…… Another thought…. It’s just a pile of hemp….

  6. The military should be developing alternative energy if they have to use so much petrol. It is the 21st century after all…

  7. Swarthmore mom 1, January 31, 2013 at 10:39 am

    I agree with you that the military is way,way,too large, but they are focusing on energy efficiency much more that the private sector is.
    Yes indeed, and some Senators like denier Inhofe are up in arms about it (Has The Navy Fallen For The Greatest Hoax?). Their Admiral in charge, a former denier of it, is quite serious about it now.

  8. and repubs keep trying to give military more then they have asked for. Guess they will keep this amount in budget too despite the cutting of it.

  9. I have to agree with the Prof here. It’s the right thing to do both ecologically and politically if not economically.

  10. I suspect that the “greening of war institutions” is akin to the “military’s conversion to religion” in order that the groupthink “God is on our side” would coagulate — as old and recent books, one after another — point out.

    The holy-ing of the American warmongers is like or equivalent to the greening of America in that sense:

    Today’s religious Right equates secularism with totalitarianism, and it opposes these twinned forces internationally and within the culture of the United States. Jonathan P. Herzog’s well-researched study demonstrates that the Right’s theological partisans are marshaling a system of beliefs initially forged by a coalition of conservatives, liberals, and moderates in the early Cold War. With assistance from clergy and interfaith groups, leaders in a variety of secular institutions promoted the idea that America was a covenant nation engaged in a holy war with a communist enemy whose belief system was a rival faith to Judeo-Christian democracy.

    (The Virgin MOMCOM, quoting recent books). Nothing, and I do mean nothing, they do is on “the up and up.”

    One has to wonder when we are going to figure that out.

    As Chomsky often says “it takes genius not to see it.”

  11. Reefer sadness. If they haul that junk out off the reef and then sink it, then IT could become another reef. The fish would like swimming around the Captains table, the mine sweeps, the radio room. Sunken ships are good for fish. Drain the oil though.

    Here in North Carolina the Department of Fish and Wildlife has a program where they take thousands of old abandoned automobile tires, chain them together and drop thiem into an area of the Neuse River so as to make a reef for the fish. When the chains rust away, the tires wash up on shore. This is ecology 101. They built this right up to and across a boat channel into a place called Duck Creek. The Ducks dont mind because they like the tires on shore. The boats run aground on the new reef. The fish cheer. This is marked by four buoys that say Fish & Wildife but no sign to give warning, such as Man Made Disaster inside these four boys. Fish and Wildlife does this project so that people can make a living fishing. Their sons grow up and join the navy. One was driving that minesweeper.

  12. Regarding the Antarctic drilling and the UV sterilizers: One of the main purposes for trying to keep microorganisms out of the hole is so that if life is found in the lake (that has been cutoff from the surface for possibly 100,000 years) the science team can rule out surface contamination.

    The awesome news is that the science team has just announced that they have found life living underneath 1.2 miles of ice in frozen lake. Amazing discovery! Much more to come.

  13. If there really is no other solution, than they really have no other choice, since this reef by all accounts is an ecological treasure and also an important tourist destination that sustains the area economically. I can not help wonder, however if instead perhaps helium balloons, helicopters or floats could be used to lift the ship up. The government should be commended for trying to minimze the impact but I worry about breaking up the ship, that that may also release pollutants. I wonder if perhaps it might make more sense to leave it there, removing everything possible to reduce its weight, then wait for the next big tide or storm with its storm surge, to allow the ship to be moved off the reef when the water level rises. Better to take a little time with this and do it right, also saving 277 million dollars of taxpayer money. Whatever they do, they should work with the local community and try to get their buy-in.

  14. Dear Pete9999 — Re: the CPt’s career — normally you would be correct. I am not sure what time of day that the ship hit the reef but you DID read where the charts were off by 8 miles — that is a significant error on a chart.

    If they hit at night — I am Army not Navy — but they would have had only the OOD as well as a small contingent — say 3 tpo five people on that Bridge — that reef probably came up on them a lot faster than they realized esp. if they were steaming at anywhere’s near full speed. Eight miles off on the charts and you immediately want to blame the CPT … OK

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