What’s happening on Tubbatha Reef is covered in detail by Galrahn at Information Dissemination. The facts will, likely, come out in the ensuing investigation. On the off chance that pundits and investigators alike are unfamiliar with the Navy’s history with groundings or ship losses, here are a few things to consider…

October 8th, 1957 – USNS Mission San Miguel (AO-129) runs aground on Maro Reef in the Hawaiian Islands while running at full speed and in ballast. She sinks but her crew is rescued by LST 664.

August 22nd, 1958 – USS Prestige (MSO-465) sinks after running aground off Shikoku, Japan.

July 17th, 1965 – USS Frank Knox (DDR-742) runs aground on Pratas Reef in the South China Sea while underway to Taiwan. The ship is pulled free on 22 August.

November 3rd, 1966 – USS Tiru (SS-416) runs aground on Frederick Reef in the Coral Sea and is freed on 6 November.

February 6th, 1968 – The USS Bache (DD-470) drags anchor off Rhodes harbor, Greece, in hurricane force winds and runs aground on rocks, splitting the ship from stem to stern, but there are no serious injuries. On 17 February the ship suffers further damage in a two-day storm. The ship is so badly damaged, rather than refloated it is decommissioned on 26 February.

September 23rd, 1973 – USNS Sgt. Jack J. Pendleton (T-AKV-5) runs aground near Triton Island in the Paracels and is abandoned.

April 23rd, 1973 – USS Force (MSO-445) catches fire and sinks about 820 miles west of Guam in the Philippine Sea. Seventy crewmen who abandon the Force are picked up the next day by the British merchant ship Spratnes.

May 8th, 1982 – USS Chauvenet (T-AGS-29) runs hard aground on Dauisan Reef in the Cagayan Islands in the Sulu Sea while underway from Subic Bay, Philippines, to survey grounds in Indonesian waters. After two-and-one-half weeks of salvage efforts, the ship is refloated by U.S. Navy salvage teams and towed to the Ship Repair Facility in Subic Bay.

Not all of those COs were summarily relieved. One was court martialed, one was promoted. The others, well, I’m still researching those.

Either way, the CO, XO, and crew deserve some things from us, and from the institution. They deserve that we talk to them forthrightly. That we ask them questions and not act as if this is a dark incident, never to be spoken of. They deserve to be afforded some level of grief counseling, without question, chagrin, or judgement.

The US Navy has not lost a ship in forty years. Let us hope this is a time for learning, educating, and grieving…not one for affixing blame.




Posted by M. Ittleschmerz in History, Navy


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  • grandpabluewater

    Nice summary, thanks. Don’t forget the submarines who failed the general case requirement of “keep the depth of the keel above the depth of the ocean”. Not counting the most recent and most tragic, USS Guardfish, USS Theodore Roosevelt , USS Ray, and some others undoubtedly not to be spoken of even yet. Ray lived by the strength of one interior manway cover.

    Another interesting and still premature topic is appropriate action to deal with a stranding in terms of salvage preparations and methods.

  • Frank_Van_Haste

    Quote: “The US Navy has not lost a ship in forty years. ”

    USS La Moure County (LST-1194)????

    • M_Ittleschmerz

      Not “last” as in I mean here. “Early decomm” is another animal entirely. In La Moure County’s case (and a few more over the past 40 years) the crew was able to take her home, have a ceremony, say goodbye to each other and the ship.

      A far cry from sinking in foreign waters or being cut up and trucked home for disposal.

    • M_Ittleschmerz

      Not “lost” as in I mean here. “Early decomm” is another animal entirely. In La Moure County’s case (and a few more over the past 40 years) the crew was able to take her home, have a ceremony, say goodbye to each other and the ship.

      A far cry from sinking in foreign waters or being cut up and trucked home for disposal.

      • grandpabluewater

        The crew flew home and the ship was pulled off the rocks, decommed, never repaired and sold for less than scrap, still deployed. Lipstick on a pig. The ship was lost.

      • M_Ittleschmerz

        Not entirely correct. Much or most of the crew flew home, more than a week after the grounding. There was a decommissioning ceremony of sorts in Chile. LaMoure County was towed back to the states and a year or so later sunk as a target.

        Not the same shock to the crew as Guardian, or most of the other ships on this list.

  • http://www.facebook.com/wade.armstrong.562 Wade Armstrong

    Nice compilation of data, excellent tone in the next to last paragraph. I began to feel some unease when the list ended without mentioning the La Moure County, which clearly met the initial criteria of “groundings or ship losses”. The next to last sentence left me baffled. Reading the remarks, the pathetically lame excuses for why La Moure County was not included left me wondering whether the author had cherry-picked data and left out other similar incidents.

    La Moure County clearly belongs in the list, and leaving it off clearly discredits what would have been an otherwise very good post.

    By the way, the Chauvenet, more than 30 years later, is still in service as Pacific Collector, a Missile Defense Agency missile tracker. Frank Knox served another 27 years. Tiru served another 9 years. La Moure County “served” (at anchor in full damage control mode) for a few more days. We lost her to a grounding. No excuses or parsing of statements.

    • M_Ittleschmerz

      I understand your, and Gramps’ consternation. In the end, I wrote the post, I chose the list, and I chose to leave LaMoure County (as well as Port Royal and Nathaniel Greene) out. I also did not include ships like Conyngham, Solar, Cochino, Chelaris, Thresher, Scorpion, Hobson, and so on…)

      I see Guardian as a different case from La Moure County if for no other reason than La Moure County was already at the end of her service life, was destined to be decommissioned in the near term. If that is insufficient, the consider this:

      The time between when she ran aground and was decommissioned was weeks, not days (12 Sep grounding, decommissioned and struck 17 November).

      Guardian’s crew was evacuated while the ship remained in distress.

      Beyond that, thank you for the information on Chauvenet and Frank Knox.

      • http://www.facebook.com/wade.armstrong.562 Wade Armstrong

        Your article was about groundings.
        Of course you properly left out Conyngham, Solar, Hobson, Thresher, Scorpion, Cochino (and Frank E. Evans), as they were not lost to groundings.
        Of course you properly left out groundings by Nathaniel Greene (and San Francisco), as they are boats, not real ships (even the bubbleheads publicly recognize that).
        Why you continue to try to exclude La Moure County is baffling. Other than that curious flaw (perhaps you were the LMC Nav?), excellent post.

      • M_Ittleschmerz

        I was not the LMC Nav…not sure why you saw fit to add that. Goes from “hmmmm” to impugning motives and personal pretty quick. No need for that, is there?

  • http://www.facebook.com/derrick.lau.75 Derrick Lau

    Well…it’s too soon to comment as I cannot find any info online regarding weather and sea conditions the day of the incident. Also don’t know if the water depth charts were up to date, and whether GPS was working, etc…,etc…

    Out of curiosity, why was that ship made out of wood? What year was it made?

    • M_Ittleschmerz

      The ships of her class are minesweepers – wood is less likely to set of magnetically influenced mines.

  • M_Ittleschmerz

    Gramps – you got a source I’ll be able to quote for your rendition? I’m working an overall project that includes all the above ships, including LaMoure County, and I’m seeing that there may be more information out there than what I had.
    But, I can’t just use “grandpabluewater sez” as the citation…

    • grandpabluewater

      Have admin send me your email address.

  • http://www.facebook.com/wade.armstrong.562 Wade Armstrong

    A few more groundings to add to the list:
    11 Jan 1947: USS LSM-432 grounded Babuyan Island, northern Philippines, abandoned.
    16 Aug 1971: USS Regulus (AF-57) grounded Hong Kong during Typhoon Rose, abandoned.
    28 Aug 1992: USS White Plains (AFS-4) grounded Guam during Typhoon Omar, refloated and served another three years.
    South East Asia has long been a dangerous place for mariners.

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