MANILA, Philippines - United States authorities on Saturday said an inaccurate navigation chart data that displaced the location of the Tubbataha Reef may have led to the grounding of the minesweeper, "USS Guardian."
But even with this finding, the U.S. Navy said a comprehensive investigation is continuing to determine other potential contributing factors.
Latest statement released late Saturday afternoon by the Pacific Fleet public affairs indicated that, "the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) today (January 19) provided preliminary findings of a review on Digital Nautical Charts (DNC) that contain inaccurate navigation data and may have been a factor in the Guardian grounding that occurred in the Sulu Sea on Jan. 17."
Because of this, the U.S. Navy said that investigation to assess the circumstances surrounding the grounding of the minesweeper will include information on faulty digital chart used by the Guardian to navigate Philippine waters.
The Pacific Fleet added that since DNC mapping is also used for safe navigation by other U.S. Navy ships using similar electronic charts, Navigator of the Navy Rear Adm. Jonathan White has released "precautionary guidance" to all Fleet and ship commanders.
White reportedly advised Fleet and ship commanders "to operate with caution when using NGA-supplied Coastal Digital Nautical Charts due to an identified error in the accuracy of charting in the Sulu Sea."
This, after initial review of navigation data "indicates an error in the location of Tubbataha Reef" on the digital map.
According to reports, the chart used by the Guardian "misplaced the location of the reef by about eight nautical miles."