Hopefully, no more groundings!

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez - The Freeman

A fine of $1.4 million, or approximately sixty million pesos has been assessed by the Tubbataha Management Office (TMO) as the fine for the damage caused by the grounding of the USS Guardian more than two months ago. The amount was based on the actual damage done by the ship on the protected reef, which was way below the initial estimates of around four thousand square meters. The TMO is hopeful that the US Navy will keep its promise in paying for the damage done. In another development, the commanding officer and three other crewmen were relieved of their duties, and will probably be reassigned as punishment for the grounding, and the eventual dismantling of a $277 million ship!

These are all good news, for now. At first, I thought that the commanding officer was even being rewarded when he, along with the rest of the crew of the USS Guardian were given a new ship! And while $1.4 million is nothing to the US Navy, $277 million, not to mention $45 million for the salvage operation and a whole minesweeper turned into junk, is! Some sectors even say that the amount is ridiculously low. A slap on the wrist, if you will. But the TMO was specific that not a penny more, nor less was being fined, as there were parameters that were followed. The money will be used for the betterment of the park, especially the quarters of the rangers, and the overall upkeep of the UNESCO world heritage site.  Hopefully.

It will be interesting if and when the US Navy will pay the fine. Money sometimes can come between even the best of friends! But they will really have to pay the fine. It would also be interesting if someday, the real reason for the grounding comes out, and why they were there in the first place. With all the speculation that has gone around regarding the grounding of the ship, one can only want to know the truth. Hopefully.

But we may see more US naval ships patrolling the waters of the country, especially with the rising tensions brewing in the Korean peninsula. The region may be thrown into the flames of war should Kim Jong-un lose his mind and start firing on the South. As the US pledges support for South Korea, we as an ally of the US will have to respond as well. While nobody wants another war in the Korean peninsula, countries are already making preparations for such an eventuality. Countries like Japan are elevating their readiness for trouble. The US has mobilized several of its destroyers. The South especially so, as they stand to absorb the brunt of a northern aggression.

With all that activity, hopefully we won't see another ship grounding on the reef! Hopefully.

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