US navy completes removal of fuel from grounded ship



MANILA, Philippines – The United States Navy on Friday completed defueling the grounded USS Guardian, a crucial step before the vessel could be removed from the Tubbataha marine sanctuary without risk of leaking oil into the protected area.

The US Navy’s 7th Fleet, the minesweeper’s mother unit, said in a statement that the Vos Apollo, a Malaysian tugboat contracted for the job, has completed removing nearly 57,000 liters of diesel fuel from the ship on the eighth day of its stranding on the reef.

“To prevent potential environmental damage, the US Navy-led salvage team on January 25 completed removing all diesel fuel from the tanks of the mine countermeasures ship USS Guardian (MCM 5),” the 7th Fleet Statement said.

The Avenger-class ship had just come from a port call at the Subic Bay in Olongapo City and was en route to Indonesia when it ran aground on the Tubbataha Reef, a Unesco World Heritage site, before dawn on Jan. 17.

Concerned Philippine groups have questioned why the ship passed through the marine sanctuary in the vast Sulu Sea despite warnings from local authorities that they were not allowed to sail through the protected area. The US Navy cited possible errors in the ship’s navigational equipment as the likely cause of the grounding.

US officials have apologized for the incident, saying the American government recognized the value of the Tubbataha Reef, which the Philippines considers a “national treasure.” Philippine groups continue to press for US accountability for the damage to reef and violation of Philippine laws.

The US Navy, which now has a team on site to oversee salvage operations, bared this week that the ship had started to take in water, with its fiberglass-covered wooden hull already damaged. It has declared the ship not fit for use.

“The hull has been punctured and several areas of the ship have been flooded. The repeated pounding of heavy seas on the ship, which hampered recovery efforts in the days immediately following the grounding, has also resulted in the loss of much of the fiberglass coating on the port side,” the US Navy said.

It said two heavy-lift ship-borne cranes were expected to arrive on site on February 1, as salvors have decided that lifting, instead of towing, the vessel off the reef was the best option to remove the ship while minimizing further damage on the reef.

“The option that we had hoped to tow the ship off the reef is not available. The ship is too badly damaged,” said Rear Admiral Tom Carney, on-scene commander of the salvage operation.

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  • RyanE

    Hmm.. perhaps the government will just require the U.S. to pay the damages with this minesweeper itself. We can repair this thing in no time.

  • i_am_filipino

    If the location of the fuel tank is in the mid section of the vessel after it was shown on tv, and were already emptied, that is to say that the whole bottom touched the ground and was not only a portion of the bow. Perhaps this is the reason why they abandoned the first plan by pulling the ship due to the large area of the bottom that is rested on reef.  I get it now.

  • joboni96

    ang pagsira ng barko ng imperyalistang navy sa tubbataha
    ay singtulad ng pagsira ng imperyalistang u.s. sa bayan nating pilipinas

    u.s. – kastila war    1898
    pilipino – u.s. war   1899-1912      1+ million pilipinos died
    u.s. – japan war      ww2               nasira pilipinas, 1 million pilipinos died
    u.s. – korea war     1950-1953      100+ pilipino casualties
    u.s. – vietnam war 1960s-70s       used philippines as staging area, pilipino casualties
    u.s. – tsina war     20??               modern weapons will result in higher casualties

    hindi pa kasama dyan ang mga kinulimbat nilang
    gold at ibang mahalagang metal
    pag kalbo sa kabundukan kaya tayo binabaha ngayon
    parity rights na ginamit pang darambong
    etc etc

    ang agenda ng imperyalista
    gawing base ang bayan natin na naman
    sa gerra nila sa pinagkakautangang intsik switik

    na tayo na naman ang tatamaan
    habang sitting pretty sila unscathed
    thousands of miles away


    ng hindi gawing bases ang bayan natin ng imperyalistang u.s.
    sa napipintong gerra nila kontra hegemonistang intsik

    magpalakas ng pro pilipino defense
    kasama mga kapit bayan natin
    para pigilin ang intsik switik sea grabbing

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