The USS Guardian is a minesweeper normally deployed in littoral and protected waters either for mine-laying or mine-sweeping. To find this vessel operating in open waters way far from the usual shipping routes is indeed a mystery and invites further scrutiny and speculation.
Understand the vessel is homeported in Yokosuka, Japan, now in the middle of winter. It may well have been deployed to warmer waters—for exercise and training? Did the ship captain take the liberty to go for R&R, i.e., scuba diving and other extracurricular activities in wanton disregard and violation of Philippine sovereignty and regulations?
The Navy said the vessel was en route to a port of call. If the port of call is not in the Visayas or Mindanao, it is certainly not in the right shipping channels. Did the Americans give prior notice on what Philippine port they were intending to visit? If their port of call is in the Pacific Ocean or west to south of the Philippines such as Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia for example, the ship is ridiculously out of position.
The US Navy announced that the incident happened due to faulty navigation charts. This is very hard to believe. The US Navy, the most powerful in the world today, has made the most thorough hydrographic survey of all the seas and oceans to ensure the safe navigation of their billion-dollar submarines and surface vessels. They must take us for being ignoramuses and naive as well.
The Americans invented and operate a very precise positioning system called the GPS (for Global Positioning System) that is used by all naval and merchant vessels as well as aircraft. This is a very accurate and dependable system of pinpointing any location on the planet. Either they have an incompetent crew or careless navigator at best.
We can surmise that they must have been planning to drop anchor close enough to shore but misjudged the weather, currents, wind and visibility, etc. Did they run aground at night, in darkness? The US government treats this incident in a cavalier fashion as if we are all ignorant and can be taken for granted.
—EDUARDO F. HERNANDEZ, senior counsel, Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura
Sayoc & De Los Angeles