The wreck of the stricken mine warfare vessel Guardian has finally been removed from the coral reef on which she became grounded in mid-January. The final section of hull was removed from the UNESCO World Heritage-listed site on 30 March. Salvors began dismantling the ship on 26 February after it was adjudged that attempts to tow her off would cause more damage to the protected reef.
The embarrassing and costly incident, with the ship’s stranding initially being attributed to inaccurate digital charts, comes at a time when the navy can least afford it. Apart from losing an asset valued at $277 million, the US Navy is also facing a $1.5 million fine for damaging around 2.35 square miles of coral. Added to this is the $45 million cost of the salvage and the expense of shipping out a replacement ship to Japan. USS Warrior arrived at Sasebo by sealift on 27 March.