SASEBO, Japan - The crew of Ex-Guardian (MCM 10) watched from the pier as USS Warrior (MCM 10) arrived at Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo (CFAS) March 27. In an unusual crew-swap situation, the crew of Ex-Guardian will be transferred to Warrior and remain forward deployed to CFAS effective March 31.
The Ex-Guardian ran aground on Tubbataha Reef in the Philippines Jan. 17, was beyond economical repair and was subsequently decommissioned and stricken from the naval registry Feb. 15.
“It’s been difficult for the crew, both officers and enlisted, not having a ship,” said Lt. j.g. Jared Shrader, Warrior’s Damage Control Assistant. “Sometimes there is a sense of confusion, but now with Warrior here we have a clear purpose.”
Warrior, which was most recently deployed in the 5th Fleet area of responsibility, is an Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship similar to the ex-Guardian, which will make the crew’s transition to manning the ship and making it operational a little easier.
“The crew has been training for the last month and a half, running drills and visiting other ships, “ said Shrader. “We’re excited to get on board, take possession of this new warship and get back out to sea like we were meant to do.”
“We’ve been training like we fight back on the ship, and we can’t wait to get back out to sea,” said Engineman 2nd Class Nicholas Davis, Warrior’s Main Propulsion Supervisor, who credited his leadership for maintaining unit cohesion for the past two months. “Ever since the incident the chain of command, from LPOs [leading petty officers] up to the 7th Fleet, has been very supportive of us,” said Davis. “They made sure we had uniforms and that the crew stayed together.”
Lt. Cmdr. Mark A. Rice, commanding officer of the ex-Guardian, introduced the crew to the new ship with an awards ceremony on the pier, thanking them for the courage and dedication they showed when Ex-Guardian ran aground, and handing crew members who had been on board a letter of recognition.
“It was an incredible challenge but you demonstrated the greatest character in meeting that challenge. All 79 Guardian Sailors made it home because of it. As we move towards the future, know that I have always been proud to be part of this crew.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Lt. Cmdr. Mark A. Rice as the commanding officer of the USS Warrior.