PHOTOS: USS Guardian dismantled

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These extraordinary pictures show how the U.S. Navy is using a crane to dismantle one of its ships which is stranded on a reef in the Philippines.


Operation: The bow of USS Guardian is removed by a crane after being cut off from the minesweeper
Operation: The bow of USS Guardian is removed by a crane after being cut off from the minesweeper

The minesweeper USS Guardian yesterday had its entire bow, or front section, cut off and removed.
Photographs of the large-scale operation show the ship's extraordinary wooden hull as well as providing a fascinating cross-section of the 225ft vessel.

Scroll down for photos.

When the removal of the Guardian is complete, the $277million minesweeper will be totally scrapped, three months after it ran aground on January 17.

A replacement minesweeper, the USS Warrior, is being transferred to the Pacific to relieve the Guardian, the Navy said.

The minesweeper ran aground on the UNESCO World Heritage site in the middle of January and an investigation into the grounding is still ongoing.

Navy engineers decided their only option is to destroy the 225-foot ship by cutting it up and hauling it away on a barge, instead of trying to drag it off the reef.

The vessel, which would cost $277million to replace, is 23 years old and one of just 14 of her type in the Navy.

It was on its way from Subic Bay, Philippines, to its next port call in Indonesia when it struck the reef, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) east-southeast of Palawan Island in the Sulu Sea.

Attempts to free the Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship at high tide were unsuccessful. Its crew was evacuated to other vessels, and the ship was battered by waves that pushed it farther onto the reef.--Source: The Daily Mail


HOW TO PROTECT A MINESWEEPER
Avenger-class minesweepers have their hulls built of wood and fibreglass, rather than metal.
This reduces the chance that the ship can be targeted by mines by lowering its 'magnetic signature', and provides extra protection in the event of a blast.
Constructing wooden hulls to some extent requires a return to traditional ship-building techniques, from the time when timber rather than metal was routinely used for ocean-going vessels.
Tough woods such as oak, Douglas fir and Alaska cedar are fashioned into the shape of the ship's hull, then covered in a mixture of plastic and fibreglass.
The ship is then painted grey so that it resembles the metal of an ordinary naval vessel.



Unique: The ship's paint and fibreglass shell have come away in the ocean revealing its wooden hull
Unique: The ship's paint and fibreglass shell have come away in the ocean revealing its wooden hull

Scrapped: The $277million vessel will be rendered completely useless when the operation is complete
Scrapped: The $277million vessel will be rendered completely useless when the operation is complete

Remnant: The Guardian's stern is still stuck on the coral reef in the Philippines were it was stranded
Remnant: The Guardian's stern is still stuck on the coral reef in the Philippines were it was stranded


Hanging around: Salvage crew members are transferred by crane to the USS Guardian
Hanging around: Salvage crew members are transferred by crane to the USS Guardian

Deconstruction: The operation involves cutting the fiberglass-and-wood hull of the Guardian into three parts before the vessel is lifted from the reef
Deconstruction: The operation involves cutting the fiberglass-and-wood hull of the Guardian into three parts before the vessel is lifted from the reef

Dismantling: The second deck level of the minesweeper USS Guardian is guided onto a U.S. Navy vessel
Dismantling: The second deck level of the minesweeper USS Guardian is guided onto a U.S. Navy vessel


Careful operation: A crane removes the exhaust funnel structure from USS Guardian
Careful operation: A crane removes the exhaust funnel structure from USS Guardian

Out of commission: In addition to the operation to pull the ship apart, the U.S. Navy has said that the Guardian was decommissioned and struck from the Naval registry on February 15
Out of commission: In addition to the operation to pull the ship apart, the U.S. Navy has said that the Guardian was decommissioned and struck from the Naval registry on February 15




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