PH to seek damages for US navy ship mishap


The USS Guardian, a US Navy minesweeper, after running aground off Tubbataha Reef, a World Heritage Site in the Sulu Sea, 640 kilometers southwest of Manila in this January 17 photo released by the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Command. AP/AFP WESCOM

MANILA – The Philippines will seek damages from the United States after a navy ship ran aground on a coral reef in a protected marine reserve, an official said Friday.

The USS Guardian remained trapped on the Tubbataha Reef, about 130 kilometers (80 miles) southeast of the western island of Palawan, on Friday, even after most of its crew members were removed in a bid to get it refloated.

Philippine officials said the 224-foot (68 meter) minesweeper, based in Susebo, southern Japan, was destroying coral in the Unesco World Heritage Site where entry is restricted and permits are required.

Philippine Foreign Undersecretary Raul Hernandez said the United States, the country’s main defense ally, had provided some information on the incident but that Manila would conduct its own probe.

“We are now asking our government agencies to investigate the incident and make an assessment on the damage caused by this and the legal obligation,” he said.

The penalty would depend on the amount of damage caused by the ship, he said.

The superintendent of Tubbataha marine park, Angelique Songco, said the ship was lying on about 10 meters of coral and that strong winds and waves were pushing it along the reef, causing further damage.

“The winds are getting stronger, the waves are getting larger and the hull is destroying the reef,” she told AFP.

She questioned why the ship, which had just made a port call in Subic Bay in the Philippines, was passing through Tubbataha.

“There was an absence of good faith here. They did not even report (the grounding.) Our rangers just discovered them there. I don’t know what they wanted,” she said.

The US Navy should be liable for entering the marine reserve without a permit, damaging corals and for non-cooperation with local officers, she said, adding that the fine would depend on the extent of the damage.

The local office of the environmental group the World Wildlife Fund also criticized the US navy, saying it was “both baffling and lamentable” that the USS Guardian would enter Tubbataha without a permit.

The Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment said: “This incident shows us how the United States military forces have brazenly disrespected our laws and damaged our country’s environment and national treasures.”

Tubbataha is popular among divers for its walls of coral and diverse ecosystem that environmentalists say rivals that of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

The US Navy said the USS Guardian was on its way to an unidentified “port of call” when the incident occurred.

The Philippines, which once hosted large US military bases, has been improving its defence ties with the United States in recent months as a counterweight to increased Chinese aggression.

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  • DakuAkongUtin

    Rauraugook, lumabas na ang pagkachupapa mo sa mga puti at negro trash. Talagang praise na praise mo yang mga nagpapasueldo mo.

    • sh1seadad

      Fk the party in china. Freedom is the only way to live fool.

  • Andrew Pc

    Actually the compensation seek is more for psychological damage to the pride rather that physical damage to the reef…..Betrayal by “supposedly” closest ally hurts and hurts huge !

    Anyway, this is another call for the Philippines to wake up from her self-thought importance (to the world or rather to The States ) indulgence….she is but just a pawn at most or simply…. a servant.

  • unokritiko

    whether it is US of A or chinese naval ship that ran aground in this
    reef are all intentional.!!!They want to prolong their stay there to
    gather data!!This is one way to evade reasons between this two giants.
    think harder you filipino indiots, and not commenting for anything in
    relation to ships running aground.
     it has a blessing from malacanang itself,nothing will happened same as other chinese vessel.
    very nice strategy i would say!!!

    • sh1seadad

      what a dumb remark

  • reyginaldo

    The Americans are just giving us a chance to get one of their ships so we can get the technology and reproduce it. Likewise with the recovered target drone which is actually powered by a turbojet engine. Imagine if we reverse engineer it, just put a warhead and we got ourselves a cruise missile capable of reaching the disputed areas from the nearest island.

    • kanoy


  • INQ_reader

    BRP Gregorio del Pilar was bought by the Philippine government for 450M pesos.

    • sh1seadad

      wow that’s a good price. Its nice to get such a good deal

  • Dennis

     compensation will only goto d pocket of this mga buwaya

  • Joe Kano

    Songco is a loose cannon who should be fired for her innacurate and inflammatory statements. Absense of good faith, indeed.
     I expect better judgment from someome in her position.
    The other groups are just willful propaganda peddlers.

  • INQ_reader

    US not coming to PH aid vs China

    By Julie M. Aurelio, Norman Bordadora – Philippine Daily Inquirer
    1:29 am | Sunday, June 12th, 2011

    The United States yesterday said it will not side with any party in the Spratlys conflict, which is to say that the Philippines’ most powerful ally will not be coming to its aid should its spat with China escalate into a shooting war.

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