A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Brad Morris
Date: 2013 Jan 31, 17:09 -0500
Typical newspaper reporting! There is no way to tell the order of boarding vs grounding. Further, the article makes it sound like every ship entering the park is to be boarded first. Hence my comments.
To your statement that "Nor is it likely that anything would have been visible on radar except fishing vessels", well that's some marine park! Fishing vessels!?! What's being protected? Fishing grounds?
I'll wait and see how big the mapping error is. The magnitude is important, as is the magnitude of the berth the captain gave the danger.
Brad you wrote:
"I do understand the part wherein the Park Rangers were denied access to a US Navy warship. The US Navy is not in the habit of permitting foreign nationals to board & inspect her ships, period."
Right. In fact, would vessels of ANY nation's navy permit boarding by some minor local authorities?
And you wrote:
"However, in so denying them, the captain should have become aware that something was amiss. "Why am I in park waters?" "What in the heck was that?" Instead, the captain held course right onto to the reef."
I don't think that's what happened. The coverage in the NY Times article and repeated in a few other places appears to have the order of events backwards. The vessel was hard aground at 02:00 local time. The local coast guard or park rangers or whatever they were spotted them on radar at 04:00 local time, and that's when they asked to board. They were denied, as normal.
And you wrote:
"The captain can blame his charts"
The charts WERE in error. The mapping agency has admitted this.
"or, as is more appropriate in coastal waters, piloting. He can claim improper, inadequate or simply missing buoy markings."
What qualifies as "piloting waters" in USN custom? Is there a specific standard? This group of atolls is really in the middle of nowhere in the Sulu Sea and surrounded by deep water. There are only a couple of uninhabited islets above water in this area. If you have 500 feet of water under the keel but there are dangerous shallows ten miles away, do piloting rules apply? What is the custom? Also, I highly doubt that there are buoys out there except maybe a few markers for good diving locations. It's not likely that there is anything that would have been visible in the middle of the night in heavy seas. Nor is it likely that anything would have been visible on radar except fishing vessels, and they would not have provided any clue to the danger.
"Yet in the end, the safety of the ship was his responsibility He failed in that responsibility. The ship is a total loss and that marine reef is damaged. The only good thing is that (apparently) there was no loss of life."
Sure, the captain will lose his job, and he will be behind a desk from now on. It is indeed his fault.
The damage to the reef is probably not great, but rest assured that local authorities will get as much press coverage and MONEY out it as they can. As for the ship, I question the accounting that lists its value at over $250 million. They build nuclear submarines for about a billion dollars each, and that's the cost when they're new. This vessel was 25 years old and not a high performance ship by any measure. If an insurance company had covered it as a private vessel, I doubt it would have been valued at more than $50 million at most. Similarly if the US had sold it to the navy of an ally, there's no way in hell they could have gotten over $250 million for it.
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