Quantcast
Latest Stories

US Navy sends assessment team for extraction of marooned minesweeper

By

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, Philippines – The United States Navy has sent an assessment team that would plan and execute the delicate extraction of an American minesweeper from the Tubbataha Reef with the least damage on the marine sanctuary where it has been trapped since Thursday, the unit’s Japan-based fleet has said.

The forward-deployed US Navy’s Seventh Fleet also admitted that the grounding of the 68-meter USS Guardian could have damaged the reef just as the incident spurred a demand among concerned Philippine groups for US accountability over the destruction of what is considered a national treasure.

The US Navy has yet to clarify how the ship found its way into the protected marine park while sailing to Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

“Without speculating about this particular case, there are potential risks of damage from physical contact between the ship and the reef or sea floor, and from the effects of material from the ship being introduced into the environment,” Lt. Brian Wierzbicki, a public affairs officer the Seventh Fleet, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

“We won’t know more until the assessment team arrives on scene,” he said in an e-mail response sent from the fleet’s base in Yokosuka, Japan.

The Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship was en route to its next port call following a routine stop in the Philippines when it struck the reef and got stuck some 128 kilometers off Palawan before dawn on Thursday.

The US Navy said the ship was not leaking oil. An official of the Tubbataha marine park earlier said the ship was lying on around 10 meters of coral.

Manned by 79 sailors, the ship had arrived at the former US naval base at Subic Bay in Olongapo City on January 13 for a routine resupply, refueling and rest and recreation stop and a quick visit in Puerto Princesa before sailing off to its next destination.

Wierzbicki said the Navy was still investigating how the ship, known to be equipped with top-of-the-line navigational equipment, ran aground the reef in the vast Sulu Sea.

“The Navy recognizes that Tubbataha Reef is a unique and treasured environment. The cause of this incident will be thoroughly investigated,” said Wierzbicki when asked for comment on the concern of environment groups.

“The full extent of any damage to the reef won’t be determined until the ship is freed from the reef,” he said.

The Seventh Fleet and the US Embassy in Manila said separately that initial attempts to release the Guardian had been unsuccessful.  Wierzbicki said the US Navy’s assessment team, dispatched from Puerto Princesa on Friday, would “assess conditions, assist in salvage operations and develop a recovery plan.

“[T]heir focus will be to get onboard, get a workable plan in place and work to extract Guardian from the reef with as little damage as possible,”

In a separate statement, US Seventh Fleet commander Vice Admiral Scott Swift said other support vessels have arrived on scene.

“Seventh Fleet ships remain on scene and essential Guardian Sailors will continue conducting survey operations onboard the ship as needed until she is recovered.  Several support vessels have arrived and all steps are being taken to minimize environmental effects while ensuring the crew’s continued safety,” Swift said.

Wierzbicki said 72 of the Guardian’s crew were evacuated Friday and transferred to MV C-Champion, a Military Sealift Command chartered ship, for their safety.

The Embassy said a small team of engineering and bridge personnel would remain aboard the Guardian to work with the assessment team “in an attempt to free the Guardian with minimal environmental impact.”

“The remaining seven sailors, which include the commanding officer and executive officer, will also be transferred if conditions become unsafe,” the Embassy said.

The Embassy said US authorities “are in close communication” with their Philippine counterparts, including the Tubbataha Management Office.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Environment , Features , Foreign affairs , minesweeper , navy

  • I_kabod

    papaglitan nyo tapos hihingan nyo ng tulong. pffft….

  • bugoybanggers

    Ang kabulukan ng US sa MUNDO.. tandaan na ninyo. Sa Korean War, Umiyak, tumakbo at nagsisisi.. Sa Vietnam War, Umiyak, tumakbo at nagsisisi. Sa Iraq, nagmayabang, napahiya, tumakbo, nagsisisi. Sa Afganistan. nagmayabang, napahiya, tumakbo at nagsisisi. Iyan ang mga KANO, MAYAYABANG! Pinakamaraming kaaway sa buong MUNDO. Kaya kayo mga Pinoy iwas dikit sa Kano baka madamay pa kayo sa katarantaduhan nila at masama pa kayong mabweltahan ng mga kaaway nila. Ingat lang at Iwasan sila.



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Filipina, 51, shot dead by 24-year-old American boyfriend
  2. 19 Ukrainians, Russians, Filipinas rescued in bar raid
  3. Hong Kong accepts PH apology; sanctions also lifted
  4. China and rivals sign naval pact to ease maritime tensions
  5. Believe it or not: Filipinos love US more than Yanks
  6. PH, HK end bitter row; sanctions lifted
  7. PH seeks ‘clearer assurance’ from US
  8. Obama arrives in Tokyo, first stop of 4-nation tour
  9. Palace thanks Estrada for successful HK mission
  10. US Secret Service in Manila ahead of Obama visit
  1. Filipina, 51, shot dead by 24-year-old American boyfriend
  2. Japan presents $57-B ‘dream plan’ to solve Metro congestion
  3. Hong Kong accepts PH apology; sanctions also lifted
  4. Japan says visa-free entry still a plan
  5. 85% of Filipinos love US – survey
  6. 10 US presidents who visited the PH (and what they said)
  7. WHO warns vs spread of MERS-Cov, urges vigilance in taking precautions
  8. 19 Ukrainians, Russians, Filipinas rescued in bar raid
  9. 150 Filipino teachers in Maryland to lose jobs, visas
  10. Japan mulls no visa rule for Filipinos
  1. US to China: We will protect Philippines
  2. Japan mulls no visa rule for Filipinos
  3. DFA grants visa-free privilege to 7 countries
  4. China warned: Don’t try to tow away BRP Sierra Madre
  5. Back home in Manila, and feeling out of place
  6. Filipina, 51, shot dead by 24-year-old American boyfriend
  7. Japan presents $57-B ‘dream plan’ to solve Metro congestion
  8. China: PH tarnishing Beijing’s international image
  9. What’s inside BRP Sierra Madre?
  10. Hong Kong accepts PH apology; sanctions also lifted
Advertisement

News

  • Smooth Edsa ride up in 2 years, but…
  • Obama: US will defend Japan vs China
  • Santiago accuses Lacson of fronting for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  • Name names, Lacson told
  • Ukraine FM: We are ready to fight Russia
  • Sports

  • Sharapova advances to Stuttgart quarterfinals
  • Galedo caps ride of redemption
  • Beermen, Express dispute second semis slot today
  • Lady Agilas upset Lady Bulldogs in four sets
  • NLEX roars to 7th D-League win
  • Lifestyle

  • Marinduque: Visiting the ‘palm of the ocean’
  • First at Vatican in 60 years
  • How Jing Monis Salon gave Krissy the pixie
  • Want to be a supermodel? Work on your inner beauty, says Joey Espino
  • Denims that keep you cool–literally
  • Entertainment

  • Kristoffer Martin: from thug to gay teen
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Cris Villonco on play adapted from different medium
  • OMB exec’s assurance: We work 24/7
  • Business

  • How author of best-seller exposed ‘one percent’ economic elite
  • Bangko Sentral readies new bank lending rules
  • Gaming stocks gain, PSEi eases on profit-taking
  • Cebu Pacific flew 3.74M passengers as of March
  • Corporate bonds sweeteners
  • Technology

  • Vatican announces hashtag for April 27 canonizations
  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Opinion

  • Editorial Cartoon, April 25, 2014
  • No deal, Janet
  • Like making Al Capone a witness vs his gang
  • MERS-CoV and mothers
  • A graduation story
  • Global Nation

  • HK victims to get P115M; traders raised money
  • Afghan hospital guard kills 3 American doctors
  • Career diplomat is new PH consul general in Los Angeles
  • US4GG: Aquino should ask Obama for TPS approval, drone technology
  • Complex health care system for California’s elderly and poor explained
  • Marketplace