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.