MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard is now preparing for the “critical” phase in the dismantling of the US minesweeper USS Guardian stuck in the Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea since January.
The next phase involves cutting up the hull and removing it from the reef.
“This may probably be the most difficult part of the operation,” said PCG spokesperson Lieutenant Commander Armand Balilo. “And we should always consider the stability of the ship and the safety of the workers.”
The PCG said the salvors may need at least six straight days of good sea conditions for the task.
Balilo also said no major problem threatened the salvage operations, which it said was more than halfway done.
The USS Guardian left Subic on January 15 and ran aground at the reef on Jan. 17 as it was traveling to Indonesia.