The Complex

Photos of the week: The Navy’s wooden-hulled warships

Happy Friday. Here are your photos of the week. Bet you didn’t realize that the U.S. Navy still has wooden-hulled warships? The photo above shows the USS Guardian trapped on a reef in the Pacific Ocean being scrapped. Notice how the ship’s paint has been stripped away by waves revealing the wooden hull. Why a ...

U.S. Department of Defense
U.S. Department of Defense

Happy Friday. Here are your photos of the week. Bet you didn’t realize that the U.S. Navy still has wooden-hulled warships? The photo above shows the USS Guardian trapped on a reef in the Pacific Ocean being scrapped. Notice how the ship’s paint has been stripped away by waves revealing the wooden hull.

Why a wooden hull? The Guardian is an Avenger-class mine hunter, the same type of ship that the U.S. deployed eight of to the Persian Gulf when tensions ran high with Iran last summer. Wooden hulls give the ships an extra layer of protection against magnetic mines set up to explode when a large chunk of floating metal — like a ship — passes close by. Specifically, the hulls of the 14 Avenger-class ships are made from oak, Douglas fir, and Alaskan cedar, which, in addition to reducing the ships’ magnetic signature, apparently helps them to better withstand the blast from a mine.

Guardian ran aground on Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea on January 17. After failed attempts to free her from the shallow reef — which was misplaced on the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency-supplied digital maps the Guardian’s crew was using (and you thought Apple Maps were bad) — the Navy decided to dismantle and scrap the 224-foot-long ship on site.

Here are some more photos of her stranded and being salvaged:

Hat tip to Stars and Stripes

John Reed is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He comes to FP after editing Military.com’s publication Defense Tech and working as the associate editor of DoDBuzz. Between 2007 and 2010, he covered major trends in military aviation and the defense industry around the world for Defense News and Inside the Air Force. Before moving to Washington in August 2007, Reed worked in corporate sales and business development for a Swedish IT firm, The Meltwater Group in Mountain View CA, and Philadelphia, PA. Prior to that, he worked as a reporter at the Tracy Press and the Scotts Valley Press-Banner newspapers in California. His first story as a professional reporter involved chasing escaped emus around California’s central valley with Mexican cowboys armed with lassos and local police armed with shotguns. Luckily for the giant birds, the cowboys caught them first and the emus were ok. A New England native, Reed graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a dual degree in international affairs and history.